Thursday, July 30, 2009

Retreat After Devastation

A typical Ignatian-style retreat is made in silence, and includes a daily conversation with a spiritual director who listens to what you have to say, makes a few comments or asks a few questions designed to help you deepen your experience of prayer during the week, and then suggests some material for you to pray with over the course of the next 24 hours.

Your director might suggest just about anything ~ art, music, poetry, other reading, pretty much any kind of prayer or contemplation at all ~ but the hallmark Ignatian form of prayer involves imaginative interaction with Scripture.

Last year I met with my director late in the morning and we agreed to meet again before supper, since we were just getting started and only had five days. He suggested a few passages of Scripture for me, passages which I'm sure he uses all the time to help someone start a retreat.

When I returned late that afternoon and described my day, he asked, "Why do you think it is that no matter what text you encounter, everything that emerges is about Famous Giant Hospital (where I had just completed the summer chaplaincy program)?"

I looked at him and said, surprised by my discovery, "Because I have been completely traumatized by my summer there."

We talked a bit more and he suggested some more readings, but told me to lay off until the next day. "This has been a little intense," he said "Take a complete break tonight."

Our son died during the night, and I found out the next afternoon and went home that evening.

Words like trauma and intense hardly describe the subsequent eleven months.

And so day after tomorrow I am off for another weeklong retreat. Not to last year's place ~ I can't imagine ever returning there ~ but to Guelph, where I went two years ago.

"What do you desire from this week?" Always one of the first questions.

I have no idea.


RomeLover said...

you can't imagine what you desire from this week, but those of us tracking your journey have plenty of prayers going out.
may you find God's presence in abundance and peace for the roads ahead.
and whatever else you desire.

Karen and Joe said...

I too am praying for you. I imagine you being quite PTSD after last year, and consider you very courageous to walk toward your fear. I pray that your week will be peace-filled, soothing, comforting, gentle and healing, and that you would find a resting place for your broken heart.

God bless you,

Jennifer said...

Our prayers carry you.

Purple said...

Gerald May is on of my favorite authors. The following is from the notes I took during my spiritual direction intensive (this is from "The Awakened Heart")

Hebrew: “yod” and “shin” form a root meaning “space and the freedom and security which is gained by the removal of constriction”

Yeshua comes from this YS root…referring to salvation.

Space is freedom from confinement, from preoccupation that binds us
spaciousness of form, time, soul (soul-space) the nephesh…in Hebrew
May pg 94

The irony is not lost on took your Hebrew final today.

Prayers for freedom and space in naming "What do you desire from this retreat?"

[word verf: dagamm]

karengberger said...

A very good beginning idea. Fertile soil for God. XO

Mompriest said...

I love what purple offered...and add my prayers to hers.

Sarah S-D said...

may what you need surface gently. blessings on this retreat.

Diane said...

add my prayers as well, I don't think I can add anything else after all the good words that have been offered.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I pray that God meets you in a very nurturing way.

Rev SS said...

Like Mompriest, I love what Purple offered, and add my prayers.

Heather said...

I send you all my love