Making a Spiritual Retreat at home

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It never occurred to me that I could find Jesus at home. Not the flesh and blood but the spirit. My physical sense of longing has been active for years, searching in churches and temples, sacred spaces, parks, oceans and rivers for the God I loved and the God I let go of. There have been days I have found Him deeper in the waves of the ocean than on my knees in a church. In the rough terrain of spiritual travel, the inner divine sometimes gets caught up with the worldview of spirituality. With so many different ways to celebrate God, I have often become mired in the rules and opinions of others. The beauty of humans is their willingness to go to any length to find comfort in the seat of God’s lap, but the darkness creeps up in the judgment of where that lap is. God will always be God regardless of our thoughts or opinions. But the way we relate to God is similar to the way we relate to the world; a blade of grass that speaks to me may mean nothing to you while the sound of the highway may mean everything.

I have been bed bound for several days now and the kids and husband are away. Though the pain has been great, the clarity has been far-reaching. The depths of my heart have been crying out for a spiritual retreat, a time of silence, a time away. And although I have silently prayed for these things, almost an unconscious prayer if you will, I always thought it a bit selfish to ask God for a spiritual getaway. In any event, it would never happen. I have a job and three children, a husband and a full plate; that is until I was forced into bed by something I could not control. So when the family left for the weekend I was in pain and alone. It’s been ten years or so since the last time I ever remember being alone like this. Smack dab in the middle to end of Lent I found myself here, in a desert I prayed for but never saw coming. My first thought was to reluctantly give my pain up for someone who didn’t deserve it, my least favorite person, someone who had persecuted myself and many around me. I asked God to accept my pain as a sacrifice for this man’s salvation, his reconciliation with God and a second chance at mercy.

Heading into day two, the silence seemed uncomfortable. But I noticed the sunlight coming off the kitchen window, the beautiful color of the dark wood stairs and the sound of the highway that reminded me I was not far from the chaos of the world. I wanted to create a sacred space, get on my knees on a kneeler to Mary, look at an iconic picture and find myself surrounded by darkness and candlelight. But from a bed this was impossible, so I started to research retreats at home and found nothing. So I turned back to Jesus and his methodology and the idea of spiritual retreat.

Withdraw to deserted places to pray

I realized that it didn’t take a special set of prayers, or an icon or candles. I didn’t have to fall to my knees. The ocean didn’t have to be close and I didn’t have to sit amongst flowers in a perfectly manicured garden. The house was deserted, my heart was open and I simply had to be…

Many of us find ourselves in these situations. Hectic schedules, health problems, the inability to travel due to time or money constraints. We want bigger houses, bigger jobs and bigger lives.

But bathed in silence, the places that we are planted come to life. The light shines from the darkness

I am not saying that God may not move you, He may. But chances are the thing that you are searching for is right in front of you. We are missing the wood grain, the ray of sunlight, the sacred shrines in our hearts. What we are missing is silence…

I encourage you today to drop the thoughts in your head at the threshold, invite the Holy Spirit in, sit and do absolutely nothing. Like the magic of Beauty and the Beast, the things around you will suddenly start to come to life…

Move into Sunday

Statue, Fig, Sculpture, Tiefenschärfe

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.- 1 Peter 5:10 

But on the eighth day and thereafter, they are able to be offered to the Lord.- Leviticus 22:27(b) 

Mary’s virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord’s death escaped the notice of the prince of this world; these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God’s silence.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (498)

I usually don’t start off with scripture or readings from the Catechism. I usually start slow, building up an appetite for godly things. People see the bible and catechism and imagine a different perspective of where the writing may go, telling you what you need to do to be right with God, or simply scaring you away with words that were never intended to be scary. But if we see, as humans, these words as transcendent, as moving, as life in letters, as life-giving, as a life vest, as rescuers, we can become the lifeguard instead of the drowning victim. For God will call us out of the water when he is good and ready. 

Sunday is always our eighth day, no matter where we are, a new chance at renewal, a new year’s resolution, once a week. And I’m beginning to see it in a different light. No matter where you are in your walk of faith, I hope you will too. Entering the church doors or maybe not ready to enter the church doors. You can enter the church doors, your innermost self.  Just enter, and God will be ready to meet you.

Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:

(CC 2174)

Sunday provides the pathway and the light. It provides the opportunity to change. It provides a time to ask for forgiveness from the creator. It provides the opportunity to extend forgiveness. And there’s nothing the devil can do about it.

You can stop your addiction, your adultery, your dependence on the world, your anxiety, your depression; YOU CAN START OVER TODAY.

You can be bold, you can be brave, you can be free, you can be who you were created to be; YOU CAN DO IT TODAY.

Sunday is a gift, wrapped up in white, the gift of God, of His Son. Sunday is cleansing, beginning, the gift in and of itself, the gift of the Lord rising, the day to come out of your pit, the day to come out of your suffering. 

Even if the week has plagued you, shaken you, forced you to hide in darkness, the light of Sunday has come. It is an offering, beckoning, Christ with open arms saying, Come to me my child, come to me.

The enemy he cannot touch you, he cannot hurt you, he has fallen. The greatest events this world has ever seen were accomplished without a word from the evil one. And if God’s plan was perfectly executed, Mary’s virginal conception, Christ’s crucifixion and His glorious resurrection, how much more will God’s plan in our own lives be accomplished if we move towards Him, if we move into Sunday.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.- Jesus