Monday, May 18, 2009

Retreat Night

This past Saturday night I was in a place where I always feel myself.

It is a place along the rocky coastline of the northern Atlantic.

It is a place far from city lights and city noises.

It is a place filled with the sound of waves pulling far off into the darkness and crashing back onto the shore.

It is a place of moist winds coming in off nighttime waters.

After spending my early years in New Orleans, I am always startled to find myself standing alone there by the Atlantic. Accustomed as a child to thick, sweet night air in the month of May, I am thrilled to be trusted by myself in a place like this. There seem to be questions in the night air and a wild, sovereign freedom from easy answers.

The walkways along which I move in checkered darkness are familiar with the sound of my voice. I talk to God there. I talk to my heart. I am usually trying to get them to talk to one another. And there are times when they do. With such frequency and regularity and predictability, in fact, that I am no longer surprised by the stillness and silence that open up around me at times along that road.

I trust what I say there. I trust it more than what I say in my home or what I say in a church. I trust it infinitely more than anything I might ever have said at a dinner party on a Saturday night.

I marvel sometimes that so few people have ever walked with me there, even in the daytime. How can I have kept this place all to myself? How can I claim to be known through and through if this nighttime walk is still one that no one has taken alongside me?

Thirty years of retreats, and this promise of a nighttime God ready to listen to me and my heart is still kept.

To my relief.

To my healing.

Image of waves from bluesherpa

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