Some Practical Help for Getting Started This Week

This week we will use all of the means we have practiced since the beginning of the retreat. We get started by reading the texts of the readings for this week. As we begin the week, we want to get these scenes deep inside us.

We will begin each day by recalling what it is we wish to become part of the background of our day and asking for the grace we desire that day. Each morning, for a very brief time, perhaps as we put our slippers or robe on, we will remind ourselves of the focus of our day and will ask to see Jesus more clearly, to love him more deeply, that we may become one with him more completely in the everyday choices of our lives. We are focusing on this journey to Jerusalem, and we want it to become concrete for us each day. We are desiring to be able to see and to follow Jesus down that road. So each morning and throughout the day — as I drive to work, begin my day, walk from this place to that, reach for the phone, return home, in the dozens of in-between times of the day — I can say, simply and briefly, “Dear Jesus, I want to be with you. Show me the way today. I so want to see.”

It should be easy this week to let these reflections interact with the everyday elements of our lives. It should not be difficult to discover the image of Jesus or his journey deep into the mystery of life and death itself. We can let every experience we encounter in the week, in which there might be some element of conflict, misunderstanding, resistance, dishonesty, even cruelty, show us his path. God calls Jesus to make the journey — to not hold back. God promises Jesus that he will fall into the hands of a loving God. But, along the way, he must let go of self-absorption. He must say “yes” to the poverty and powerlessness he is experiencing. He is journeying into vulnerability to rejection, even humiliation. Our eyes are opened throughout our day as we recognize these elements there. Wherever we encounter moments in our experience — ours or of those around us — experiences of darkness, loss, struggle, pain, violence, injustice, any kind of death at all, we clearly see how deeply Jesus journeys into our human experience.

It should be easy to be attentive to moments of blindness in my heart this week. I can be very sensitive to the times I will feel resistance rise up in my heart or stomach. It says, “I don’t want to do this.” It says, “No.” It says, “How do I avoid this?” I can look for the experiences of competition I encounter. I can be more highly aware of the dynamics that define what greatness is. I can look at and name the instances of struggle to be servant for others in my day.

All of this doesn’t take more time. It takes more attention. Each evening, as I get ready to go to bed, I can recall the movements and reflections and insights of the day, and I can give thanks. This is so important. With growing familiarity and growing tenderness, I seal the day with words that express what I saw and understood about the mission of Jesus and the invitation he makes to me to be with him in this journey of self-donating love.

Images and gestures are important to support our prayer. Is there a cross or crucifix anywhere in my home? If not, this may be the time to buy one and put it up. If there is one in my home, I can be conscious of looking at it this week and letting it be a symbolic link and support for the reflections that begin and end my day. This could be a time to use a simple gesture to express, with my body, what I’m trying to say with my words. For one brief minute I can open my hands, palms up, and simply hold them there, and let them express all that is in my heart that says surrender, trust, acceptance, desire for intimacy with and togetherness in his mission, the choices forming within me, my growing “yes.” All of us have time for that one minute each day, perhaps several times in the day. It will make a powerful difference in sealing the gifts we are receiving this week of clear vision.

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