Monday, May 11, 2009

A Book about Retreats

I wish there were a particular book about retreats that I could read tonight.

Late Friday afternoon I will get into my car and drive out to a retreat house here in New England. I last made a retreat there almost three years ago. It is a place to which I am eager to return for I love the setting, its walkways and its silences. I love its thirty-year history in my life. I love the message that comes to me with each visit: What do you want?

I want a book about retreats, but a book that no one else would know how to read. It would be a book that could link these upcoming three days away with the three days I spent with a group last October at a seaside house in another part of New England. I cannot make this weekend’s retreat except as someone who was changed by that fall landscape, that fall rhythm of reflection, that sowing of seeds in the autumn ground.

I want a book that does not presume yet to know what lies in wait for me this springtime weekend away. It will be a book full of the ordinary hopes and eager longing that this particular location always calls up in me. And it will be a book respectful of the tears that I know I need to expect on those walkways. They always show up in this location, and part of the invitation each retreat is not to avoid them, not to fear them, but rather to welcome the way they summon to a new, unsuspected peace.

I emerge from each challenge of this past year filled with gratitude for my life and all I continue to experience as solid care and unflagging support.

Pray that the Spirit – yet once more – takes us all where life awaits, where love awaits, where the special message we each need to hear this weekend awaits hopeful hearts.

Photo from Country Living


The Dread Pirate Roberts said...

I can't help but think of the song from West Side Story: something's comin', something good. Hope does not disappoint.
Please know that I will have a candle lit for you on retreat.

John said...

I was just singing those lyrics along with Barbara Cook's CD on a recent Sunday morning drive. They are hope put to music.

Thank you for the prayers and the candle.

Ur-spo said...

A good book about retreats - indirectlyn- is The Book of hours. I forget who wrote it. He goes to the various hours of the day in a monastery and what each means.

John said...

I wonder if you're thinking of "A Book of Hours," a selection of writings by the Trappist Thomas Merton?

speculator said...

Have a peaceful and rejuvenating retreat.
I'm just back from Alfred, Maine
my favorite place to go is the Weston Priory (Vermont).
My recommendation for retreat reading is "The Cloud of Unknowing."

John said...

Thank you for your wish and your reading recommendation.

I hope your time away continues to bear fruit.

speculator said...

It does, indeed, Donald- and thank you, too, for your blessing.
I cannot seem to say enough about Weston Priory, and I'm hoping to get there before too long. I have been shaped by their community, and the spirit is always with me.

I hope you'll write something about your retreat.

John said...

Sometimes it takes me a little while to figure out what the message of a particular retreat has been. Talking it over with friends who want to know is one means of clarification that occurs in the days and weeks following the time away. I might still be too close to last weekend's retreat to know what I should write.

Thanks for asking about it.