If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell you that last weekend I was at a retreat for Permanent Deacons of the Archdiocese of Boston. It was held at the Campion Retreat Center in Weston, MA. The Center is managed by the Society of Jesus, better known at the Jesuits. It is also where their retirement home is located. Our retreat master was a Xaverian Brother by the name of Paul Feeney. When many of us were in formation, he taught the Old Testament class. For this retreat, he looked at the lives and spiritualities of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton; two American Catholics, whose names were mentioned by Pope Francis during his address to the joint session of Congress. Dorothy Day, a Catholic social activist, was a co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. She practiced every day, the Corporal Works of Mercy, feeding the hungry,
comforting those in distress, clothing the naked. But there was more to it than that, she and her followers strove to change society, to make it a place where it “was easy for people to be good.” Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk, who wrote a spiritual biography in the 1940’s, that continues inspire people. He was a prolific writer, and a mystic; combining the two, he produced writings that helped guide many into a deeper spiritual life. He also wrote on matters of peace and justice, that gave support and spiritual sustenance to many Catholic activists, the late Father Daniel Berrigan, SJ, being one of them.
If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell you that I had planned on writing about this
sooner. I packed the old laptop and brought it with me. Only to find out that Center does not have WiFi available for retreatants. Just as well, the weekend was suppose to a time of quiet and reflection, a time of sacred reading and prayer. And I tried to take advantage of the opportunity handed me. And it was a spiritually refreshing weekend.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that while I was waiting at the main entrance to be picked up, a horse came galloping by, followed by a dismounted horsewoman, and some bicyclists. There was a horse show going on down the road; I guess this big fellah had other ideas. Fortunately, they caught him before he could be struck by a car, or run over a retired Jesuit, out for his morning constitutional.
If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell that no matter how great a spiritual experience of a retreat may have been, life is waiting for you when you leave. I have a book entitled “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.” For me, it should read, “After the Ecstasy, Monday morning, the commute, the cubicle!” The challenge of any retreat experience, is to strive to make what you learn, what you experience, a part of your daily life. That is something I am still struggling with.
Well, the coffee mug is empty, maybe tomorrow I will bring another steaming mug over. We will see.