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The last weeks have been a roller coaster ride for me. At 75, I can not remember the last time someone I love has returned that love. Yet here is God, knowing me soo well, forgiving me,,giving me His love, forgiveness and mercy. What a mind blower! Absorbing His love will take time! I am anxious to see what next week brings.
Week 8: Lord, I bring to you in thanks the images that I return to in the parable of the prodigal son. I try to feel your warm embrace but I also come back to a realization that has been growing over the last few weeks that I am sometimes more like the older brother. Not that I am resentful of your love. But I am guilty of not seeing that your love extends deeply throughout the world. You are not my private God but a God who wants to deeply embrace the world. At the heart of my sin is failing to realize this.I also think of the times I have just not been there for your embrace; when it was easier just to shrug off failings and cover them over; to just pretend everything was ok. But somehow, often through people you have encouraged to be present in my life, you prompt me back.Then there are other times when I hide from your embrace. These are the times I see myself as some kind of star player in some great game of life. You are the coach I need to please and when I do not perform at my best I just want to hide. But it is my performance spiritual and secular which is uppermost in my mind; yes many times performing to please you but nevertheless performing for my pleasure and my gain. Worst, I do not see that you are not there on the sidelines shouting directions. No you want to be with me, even in my failings. You want to prompt me towards your work and in your loving embrace I know that what You value is deeply inside me and what I can contribute from there and not my performance.
So I do come to rest with you. To feel your embrace. I am coming to terms with the depth of this love. Thank you, Lord.
Week 9: There was a lot going on at my work this week which made working with this week's theme quite challenging. I had moments of inspiration when I let myself be free ... Healed ... Renewed completely by our Lord. Then there were moments of confusion when I was irritated that everything was not going my way. Why confusion? Because my self absorption imagines a world free of trouble. It takes praying at the foot of the cross to realize that this is a dangerous mirage.
I had a meeting this week with a lawyer who had spent much of his career prosecuting white collar crime and particularly insider trading. He remarked that it never ceased to amaze him that humans have such a capacity to partition their world. He told me that in his experience not many people he had prosecuted actually started out deciding to be dishonest. Rather they found it easy and carefully partitioned their life to accommodate that. While I am certainly not engaged in dishonest activity I could see how easy it is for me to also partition my life. I want so much to believe that Jesus is constantly with me. But conveniently I do not let Him into some parts of my life.
It is on this realization I asked for healing. I find it comforting to believe that Jesus indeed wants to heal me and that this is a healing journey I am on.
Also this weekend is the 25th anniversary of the Jesuit fathers and their companions murdered in El Salvador. Our homilist today asked us to imagine them living there and what they desired and he answered that they would see the inevitability of these actions because they were driven by their love for Jesus which in turn drove them to their strong solidarity with the poor. As I look through the partitions in my life I ask for that same depth of love and wonder where He will lead me in solidarity, comforted knowing this is a journey of healing.
Week 1: The image of God’s love and forgiveness as a Mother watches her toddler learn to walk and fall often was a powerful image. Being a great grandmother I have watched how often parents find disappointment in their children’s choices but are there for them when they are hurt and in need of love and acceptance. To see God loving me in that way is powerful. It gives great peace and comfort to know that He is there always.
Week 9: Spent last night mostly either awake or in a semi dream state: really stressed about a new business that I opened through having no other choice as I didn't have work. No glory, no great ambition fulfilled, lots of "What am I doing, have I lost the plot, why can't I be a normal person and just teach, get a wage, go home?"
Week 9: I am part way through week nine and the thing that keeps coming back to me is the phrase "this is not a self help programme" . Our culture is abounding in such programmes, but to realise that what I am called to do here is to place myself in God's hands is remarkably freeing. Thank you so much for this retreat, it is as if I have suddenly found the right path home after not knowing where I was. God bless you and fellow retreatants.
Am just starting week 5. Am so very grateful I found this retreat and don't remember how it happened. When I started with the photo album of my life that first week there were so many tears. And now, at week 5, the love and gratitude for Him who allowed me to be born is overwhelming. On friday there was an old show of Fr. Groeschel R.I.P. on EWTN which he happened to say look at the painting of The Crucifixion by Matthias Grunewald and see the suffering of Christ. And you now say look at the cross and see how Jesus embraced evil. I truly never saw sin in this way before. I have received many
Week 2: Your Love For Me
I am glad this week came now. Now it is more likely I can get my vanity in check, with Gods loving help. Luckily He has been working on me a few years. He keeps me going strong. Thank You, dear God who is Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.
It's not difficult to identify the suffering throughout the world, and it is not difficult to see the concomitant sinfulness. I know that I have been blessed, far beyond my worth. I don't look at my own sinfulness per se; what I do see is millions of people much better than I am who are suffering and dying. It's hard for me to isolate my thanksgiving - i.e., placing the merciful Christ at the center of the picture - and knowing this. I guess I'll have to wait and see what the Holy Spirit provides me. I hope that this is the way that it's supposed to go. -Paul
I am at the end of week five. The Ebola virus now has been the main story all week. It seems to be spreading. This morning the media reported a cruise ship now with possibly a thousand plus passengers is suspect because an employee on the cruise ship had been in contact with the Ebola patient who died in a Dallas hospital. This all makes me think of how sin hurts one person and then affects so many others. However, this week I have witnessed the amazing transformation of people when a little child, my 3 year old grandson, is in their midst. We visited a person in the memory unit of a rest home. As my grandson held my hand and walked with me down the halls (in his Bat Man costume) residents all over looked up and smiled. He brought so much joy to so many people that I marveled at the effect. I thought, “that is what Jesus does”!. God is so great!
I started week six yesterday but as with last week am finding it difficult to concentrate. It's as if I'm shying away from sin, afraid to face it, and then it occurs to me that's a recurring sin, I have often lied if I have broken rules or done things others would disapprove of, so they will not think of me as bad. I suppose that the approval of others is very important to me. And yet God loves me just as I am, I need to accept that and also to realise that is enough. Thanks be to God for that insight.