Sharing the Retreat
Week 3

Week 3

I have always been deeply and spiritually drawn to God through nature.  This week (week 3) feels so comfortable because I AM so grateful for every tiny thing He has created for me. I smile because my four-year-old daughter “gets it”.  She tells me, almost daily, that God “sent her down” something from heaven.  A pretty bird, a flower, a cloud…. She understands that He cares and loves her and wants her to be happy and thankful. It’s beautiful.
Thank you, Jesus, for all you’ve given us!  Thank you for all of creation; from the most majestic tree to the tiniest ladybug on my bean plant!

I have some real painful things that come up from my past. I know God has forgiven me for my sins, but I struggle at some of the things I suffered as a result of my own actions. I can’t change the past and I know but it hurts when I reflect on my history.

I am 77 year old and just try to joint the online-retreat, arriving on the 3rd week with the theme "Perspective - a picture of harmony".
I live in a slum area, where dirt, stench and practically all sorts of unpleasant things pervade.
It is always noisy for 20 hours a day, alive with all kinds of human activities, leaving just 4 hours to get some sort of quietness for the necessary sleep.
Chidren screaming, shouting and crying,a wife shrieking for being beaten by the husbang;  someone pounding herbs for believed medecine to be sold doot to door in the neighbourhood the next morning.   Dirt, excrement and the stench of urine everywhere, because children relieve anywhere they happen to be there, not bothering to go to the community open-air outhouse.   The parents do not have the time for them to watch.    Sometimes grownup too follow the example of these children.
Being a multi ethnic and multi religion community ,we have the cacophony of all sorts of music and the jingles of advertisment from the blaring radios.
Riding above this various noises, is the loud Muslim prayer, - amplified by a strong sound system -, from the "langgar" ( small kampong mosqe )
It just dulls your senses.  You learn not to see,  not to smell,   not to hear,  and not to react to this kind of assault.
People are just struggling ( in its truest sense ) just to survive on the day to day basis in this closed community and in still closing opportunities.
This kind of surrouding is very far from being conducieve to obtain a perspective in life - a picture of harmony,  the kind of perspective you try to lead us to our expectation.     Of course the slum area has its own kind of harmony, otherwise the slum just collaps and fall apart.
I often wonder why I should be grateful for being born amids a corrupted community/country and a suffocated society. I am sick and tired in this kind of world.
Sometimes, on the other hand,  i feel very grateful for just being born at all as a Catholic ( I was baptized on the 2nd day of my arrival in this lousy world.)
So,  I just feel that your guidence for the week 3 of online retreat is not catholic.   You do not address us who are living in the slum, where there are chockfull of milions and millions of real living breathing and breeding people.  Vatican probably has the uptodate figure of how many Catholics are living in the slums, out of the 1-and the half  billion of them.
I feel you have to redress and reedit your guidence of week 3.    I do know that you are smart and clever.

Week 3: I have repeated Week 3, partly because I am uncomfortable with the words of St. Ignatius about the purpose of my life being to praise, reverence and serve God.  To my ear, this language seems to present God as being more interested in having creatures to offer Him praise than as simply outpouring love to creatures who are left free to share that love.  But I was greatly helped by the sharing from Dan, noting that the language may be bound by the mindset of the 16th century but what's important is to get behind Ignatius' language to his sense of gratitude for his life.  I dont know why God created me but I do believe He shares His love with me and that, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, I will be able to share that love with others within my limitations.  I am grateful for my life, despite its difficulties  I continue to wander between gratitude and grievance, as one of the prayers put it, but I'm praying that my feelings of gratitude will be strengthened by this retreat.  I am grateful for the retreat and especially for those who have shared their insights which helps to really keep me moving on this retreat.
Week 3: A few thoughts about Week 3 Foundation. My own foundation has been very shakey. I don't feel rooted. The threat of job loss, notification my rent is increasing a frightening amount. I am overwhelmed and feel like I am a failure.  I am very limited at the moment. Perspective enters the picture. I am overwhelmed and feel like I am a failure. I have to take a step back. I can't see the bigger picture. It is an experience similiar to when I have travelled in the Rockies. I see this mountain coming and I don't know what's around on the other side. It is a grace to know God really does have a desire for my life. It is an immense gift to know God is present even in the darkness.
Week 3: Week 3 and I haven't taken quite as much time as the other 2 weeks.  Is it that it's just been busy, too hot, or that I feel rooted in this week's exercises already? Love of God - the closer I get to Him the closer I want to be.  As I admit to all He's done for me, the tremendous patience He's shown me, how could I do anything other than love Him?  Yet all the love I have is only the
smallest part of His love for me!  I am daily in awe of Him! Becoming an EM makes me see how much He trusts unworthy me to serve Him. Each day I try to remember to say, and certainly mean it from the bottom of my heart, the heart He's given me, that I offer myself to Him to be available for whatever jobs He has for me that day.  I marvel that He trusts me at all!  I remember when my son was about 3 he wanted to help bring in the groceries.  I entrusted him with a loaf of bread as being safe.  Is that what God has to do with me?  Give me the easy assignments so I can't do too much damage? Even so, I'm convinced He compensates for my many shortcomings. I try not to keep Him waiting once I figure out what it is He wants and needs me to do. Isn't that amazing!  That God would need me? He gives me so many material things!  I need to be ever mindful of His superabundant generosity.  And to remember that what it's pleased Him to give me it can also please Him to take away if I'm selfish.  And not only things but "my" time as well.  Sometimes all He asks of me is to be available with a listening ear, not to brush someone else off. Each sense can bring me closer to Him and give me another reason to thank Him. The beauty around me that my senses record give me innumerable reasons to be thankful.  Admiring what they reveal to me without thanking Him would be to admire a work of art without giving credit to the Artist.

Part of this week was easy for me.  I am constantly celebrating the beauty of the world around us.  I enjoy nature and often look out the window at our bird feeders or at the sky, or just to look at the trees.  Day dreaming??? This time of year, I spend late afternoons in my hammock (except this week!).  I don't sleep or even close my eyes usually.  I like to watch the birds flitting back and forth overhead and listen to a few squirrels scolding me.  Often a grandchild is at our house, usually Hannah, and I try to get her to calm down enough to notice the world.  My daughter-in-law has expressed how much she missed autumn while they lived in Southern California - leaves dropping, the clear blue sky, the cool dry air.  It's easy to be in awe of God's creation for me.

The part of the reflections that I had difficulty with is the notion that all of this was created for me/us.  For me, I feel more an "equal" part of nature and try to live my life so that nature will be sustainable for future people and animals, plants and critters.  To exploit the world around us for personal gain is abhorrent to me.  To use the "rest of creation for the purpose for which God created us” is problematic for me.  How do I know I am serving God's purpose?  Does the TV evangelist think he is serving God by using the technology that has been created?  Probably. What constitutes serving God?  Can there be personal gain with serving God?  What I do know is that I feel like I am serving God by giving to others from my skills (for example, I'd like to think one of these is teaching chemistry).  Being kind to others, being considerate and civil are also ways I think I am serving God.  When I serve others, including animals and our pets - not just people, I feel good in my heart and about myself - and that is how I feel I can serve God.
- Bruce

Week 3: Dear Lord Sorry I missed I was supposed to be talking directly to you. But it feels like you are with me all the time, and I also know intellectually you are, so when I babble you are there and know where my heart is at wether I specifically talk to you or not. Anyway I am pleased to have seen the suggestion is ...dear Lord..... It does put a slightly different perspective on things. This week was about the bigger picture, God's creative desire for us, as part of the whole creation. Nature has become so real to me here in Sweden, particularly the lst 3 yrs . I live right next to a nature reserve, 10 min slow amble through this forest brings me to the lake. There are masses of flowers, I have the most beautiful garden and there are even wild animals on my doorstep, as one never has in Africa. (There they get eaten, even the ducks in the pond in the park got eaten, free dinner.) Here I revel in the wild life an nature around me. Yesterday I saw a squirell and to-day the sheep were out so had a wonderful time looking at the 2 little kids playing. Last night on my walk I saw and heard the first woodpecker for the season, yes spring is here. The silly bird was pecking the shield over the trail light. ( in Sweden the walking trails are lit for safety reasons) It is beautiful, perfect. I am not. But I am what I am by God's creative love. I like the thought that we are continously being created. That is what CLC is all about. Walking with Him day by day. But I had never thought of God creating creation to help us achieve the purpose for which we were created. Nature created for me...??? Very difficult to get my head around that one. But I am very aware of the basic lesson this week. God created us to to praise and serve Him, your father. My work is not just a job as you know Lord. feels good to sit on the buss each evening and commit myself to you and ask you to to be with me and that you will bless me and those patients I have to deal with. This week is also about gratitude and I am in a haste to re-live that simple fishermans effect on my life. He was totally dement but oh how I loved being with him. An old old man, lying there praising you. Brains totally mush but quoting his poem over and over which I could not hear except the last few words....min Herre och min Gud....with such feeling. You were there Lord, with us in that room, night after night. A piece of pure heaven. Oh how I wish I could be so close to you Lord when my brain is mush !! That man emanated the same peace as my Dad did. Imagine being able to serve you Lord and be a blessing to others when I don't have a brain left !!! Quite a lot to think about with my obsession with intellect. Thanks Lord for this time with you. But please let me sleep properly again. I can't lie awake night after night living in my head. Can't say bye funny...cause you are with me all the time.... Oh I do get myself into these philosophical roundabouts !!!
I am in week 3. Weeks 1 & 2 were refreshing and this week is the same. I seem to be more open and hear rather than just read and listen. Words, readings, and people seem to come together. For example, today - March 16, the Daniel reading led me to the Chapter and the praises were very meaningful. I heard Mathew a little differently but when I listened to a visiting priest's homily I heard far more than words. I saw more than gestures and conviction. I felt graces of a changing heart. The background retreat seems to make a more receptive and fertile heart.
It's Saturday of week 3 and I feel very grateful to God for helping me see what my purpose is in life now.... I believe it's to bring light and love to the people that I come in contact with on a daily basis.... I see the loneliness and anxiety in my own home... a recovering Alcoholic husband (sober for 24 years) who at the age of almost 68 cannot do the physical parts of his previous work and now he is mostly at home helping take care of his paralyzed son who lives with us. We have had a very turbulent and troubled marriage the last 24 years but I feel God wants me to minister here to my husband and stepson and also to others in my senior mobile home park.... I was involved for many years in my Catholic Cursillo community which I loved very much but then God gave me the desire to help the loved ones of those in prison thru Kairos Outside (based on the Cursillo movement) -- it is non-denominational -- I have a heart and desire for being in the community and I thought that was where God wanted me to be.... I have separated from my husband several times in our relationship--2 times in the beginning and then in the last 3 years 2 more times... but God keeps bringing me back here.... It's not where I really want to be... it's very difficult to live with someone who is so negative, angry and depressed most of the time... I'm a half full person and he's a half empty person (or to hear him... mostly empty). I work full-time (thanks be to God) or else I feel I would be a prisoner here.... I try to go to several prayer groups when I can to keep me vitalized in my faith and not to steal my joy. He hates that I'm gone even when I have to tried to compromise and stay home more.... which I have. But doing this online retreat is helping me to see myself and go inward which I have yearned to do for a long time.... I just thought it was going to be in a different setting... but I love this time with the Lord.... it has to be early in the a.m. before I go to work (usually 5:00-6:00 am) -- when I wake up late and can't do this, I really miss it and can't wait to be back again. Please pray for me that I can be faithful in this journey. God bless you all and thank you so much for all your efforts in this beautiful experience.
Some thoughts about Week Three - God's creative desire for us, as part of the whole of creation I think of the risk an artist takes when, through their art, they expose their soul for others to see. If it goes unacknowledged, something inside them is deeply pained or even dies. Was there a nonnegotiable necessity for God's greatness as displayed in creation, to be freely acknowledged? Would creation have been like an unequal math equation if it did not include a freely offered acknowledgement of the greatness of its Creator? Was the creation of human beings with a free-will a necessary part of creation, to actually balance creation? Was this freely given acknowledgement so absolutely required that if it did not happen, something terrible would happen to God and is it also so nonnegotiable that something terrible happens to us if we do not cherish God's creation and acknowledge the greatness of the Creator? I wonder, how much like the first fall from heaven is it, if we fail to acknowledge God's incredible creation and instead worship our technological ability to plunder it and adorn ourselves with the proceeds? If these ideas are truly how it is in some way, there is a very great need for us to continually acknowledge the greatness of God as seen in creation.
This is week three of this retreat. In the readings, I found myself becoming annoyed at all the references to our busy-ness. I am at home sick with acute bronchitis, not running around. Then I realized that I had to have the TV or radio on as a distraction to my distress. It began to make sense to me that during this advent season, I could be like the prophet Isaiah and take this opportunity to listen to God. This personal epiphany allowed me to turn away from my physical discomfort and focus on God in truer peace and quiet. My breathing became less labored and I saw how busyness invades our life’s in sometimes very subtle ways.
Week 3: Once I saw the picture for this week I was taken immediately to Sienna, Italy where I so enjoyed the view from the hotel's garden atop a hill. I remember praising God's majestic power as I enjoyed the sunset and the early mornings from that same spot. Now I feel exactly the same emotions and joy as I see and hear nature in our wonderful backyard. Early morning I can listen to the birds as they announce the sun's arrival and I have experienced the most majestic and triumphant sunset one special day over a year ago. We even took pictures of this wonderful sight in the evening sky. It was picture perfect or shall
I say GOD PERFECT. Since I was a child I've always been able to feel and live God's presence in nature. I find it so amazing I can remain speechless at times. This week has been full of gratefulness to our Creator, not only for nature, but for my family, friends, for our priests, for everything I have been able to experience in my life. Even for my difficult oments because through them I have been able to grow and learn that life is a gift and it is precious
regardless of bad times. Thank dear Lord for everything you give me and have given me, and will give me in the future. God bless to all and thanks for sharing. We can all learn from each other as sisters and brothers in Christ.
How timely is the directive of Week 3 to take notice of creation during this, the springtime of "our Sister Mother Earth". How inspiring to see God's beauty and perfection in blossoming flowers and budding leaves, to hear heaven's music in the song of birds long silent! All this for me? A simple "thank you, Lord" is not enough, but it's a start. At times this week when I have tried to contemplate the "whole view" of myself in God's wondrous creation I became that biblical speck of dust. All the more reason to stand in awe of God's unconditional and undeserved love for us...for sinful, weak, ungrateful me...even unto death on the cross.
When I behold your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and stars which you set in place -
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?
- Psalm 8:4,5

Thanks to all for sharing your personal stories and reflections. They are food for the journey!

Week 3: I love nature and have the advantage of living amidst my own mini-forest of pines and oaks. Yet, when I look out upon nature, I am touched by remorse because each day more and more of God's greenery is cut down. It is not that I cannot take in the remaining beauty or enjoy it, but to me it is forever tinged by the thought that it is diminishing. This was affecting my initial reflections on the big picture and I was having some difficulty with this weeks focus, but on Friday, I spent a hour at our parish's perpetual adoration. There, I sat before the all encompassing, perpetual beauty that is never tinged. The Body of Christ gave me the joy of the big picture, the universal grandeur of God. There is saw unconditional making by the Maker. I saw the weaving of his master plan that makes everything good.
Week 3: There are moments when the sense of God’s presence in creation is palpable. I find it in moments of deep meditation and I also sometimes have it descend upon me seemingly out of the blue.

This rigor, this methodology that St. Ignatius has left for us and which the deep commitment of the Society of Jesus makes so available, is, well it is a grace. It is a blessing. But I have to say that the words of the week, the quote from St. Ignatius seem thoroughly rooted in the sixteenth century. Isn’t it true that each of us is tied to our own times? Don’t we all fail to really understand God, to understand the reasons why we are placed on this earth? Can we comprehend God? The idea of being created so that we can praise God doesn’t quite find my center. I think I understand the deep thankfulness, the gratitude for being here – now – that is behind his words.

And I also struggle with the idea that all of creation has been put here to assist me in that praise. I can’t help but recall the times when earth and man were considered to be at the center of the universe – physically. An idea that was hard to let go of. And yet, again I feel that I have a sense of what lay behind his idea. I want to be respectful of the ideas of this great man. I am pondering mightily the ideas and the exhortations.

Can we reach out to our own times for thoughts and ideas on how to articulate this gratitude, this wonder? The steadfastness of Jews who bowed their heads and prayed in the wake of Auschwitz makes my knees weak. Truly there is faith. Can we think of this world as a gift, a place that many creatures, all created by God, share? Can we take this bequest of a life on earth and treat it as a place that we must reverence and perhaps leave better? Could this be a purpose? As I work my way through the third week, these are my thoughts and prayers.
-- Dan

Just starting week three. I’m spending more time shifting to the external: enjoying God’s creation; pondering my role in it. Making the transition has been immeasurably helped through those who have been willing to share. This message is mostly a thanks to all of you who have reached out with your triumphs and struggles.
-- Dan

Although I am just starting Week 3, it has taken me about 12 weeks to get from weeks 1 & 2 to Week 3. I have been struggling for the past 8 to 10 months with my dissolutions of the Catholic Church. It had taken me quite a few months to even want to continue my spiritual journey. And tonight while reading the sharing I read, for me, something very profound. Someone wrote about the "desire to desire" God. I am grateful to God for all that is around me. And I do have that desire to desire and am grateful for the knowledge that God is with me.

Week 3 I have started the retreat 3 weeks ago and feel I am just hanging on with it. I am so tired overworked stressed that I feel little energy. None the less it feels important to persevere. Tonight I read the suggested passage from Romans 8 and feel most encouraged that even (maybe especially!) when I am feeling so weak that the Spirit is here to help us and prays for us in ways that can not be expressed in words.
-- Jim

This is Saturday evening, finishing the third week of the retreat. Gratefulness...last Thursday my sister and I drove to Colorado. She was going to help out at the middle school. Very proud of my sister she has a master's degree in special education. The school needed her, the kids needed her gifts. It was a beautiful experience for both of us, sharing our feelings. God brought us together in a very special way.
We drove thru the panhandle of Oklahoma with the breathtaking view of how vast the prairie is. How grateful we were for the farmers and ranchers. Farmers growing wheat trusting in God, because the weather is so unpredictable.. The corn, sunflowers, sorghum, the cows, and the sheep. To watch a wheat field as it glistens in the sun and ripple with the wind blowing, how it casts shadows when a cloud chases the sun. Gratefulness. We drove into the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado the trees were magnificent. Reds, orange, and yellow, the aspens would catch the light just right and looked like they had been kissed by the sunlight. Thank you God.
I flew home tonight and watched the sunset, rays coming down from the sky, to the east were three giant anvil clouds, storms approaching. This was the first time I had experienced night falling, actually see it. Gratefulness, many tears came to my eyes these last four days, grateful to God for all of it. My sister, the changing of seasons getting ready for the light of a new day.

Week 3 This is a very empowering exercise. I enjoyed even more my morning exercise walks especially since the fall mornings were sharp and clear. At the end of the week I went fishing ... then over the weekend visited my brother and his family ... we went for a country walk ... beautiful surroundings ... indeed I felt blessed.
This contrasted with some of my spirit during the week. At work I felt the weight of small discouragements and I was letting it get to me ... probably a blessing that I had scheduled time out at the end of the week. But even at work I received help for my discouragements from an unexpected source so I felt blessed and confirmed in my direction.
But I stuggled with the 2 spirits I felt ... certainly seeing the possibilities and gifts ... clearly able to give praise ... feel reverence ... but becoming discouraged in service. The Gospel reading for today (27th week in ordinary) spoke to me ... Jesus tells his disciples when they ask him to increase their faith that faith as big as a mustard seed would move trees and then contrasts the attitiude of servants coming in from the fields ... we need to expect that it would be normal to keep serving God ... we are always in relationship with God ... clearly in the midst of creation ... but also in the midst of everyday frustration.

Week 3 was a comforting walk around the grounds..... grateful for all around and within me..... a folding of the child within,the adult and god's presence into a being comfortable and grateful within and without.
Week Three I hesitate to write this, but, unfortunately there may be others who are having similar difficulty.
I want us "faith folk" to start dealing with some honest reality, specifically that there are times when life is simply rotten, very difficult to keep going, and, even if we believe in God, it seems that God particularly favors church people who are bumbling along comfortably not giving a thought to their faith, not only are they not struggling materially, but, they aren't struggling with their faith either, they simply bounce along and roll right over the rest of us who have to clean up their mess(es)......and struggle!
Just be honest about it, it happens. And, how do we find it within ourselves to keep going, so that we don't burn out/despair/leave.....when there is a long period of time when it certainly doesn't seem that God is even behind the scenes helping us out?
Prayer isn't always enough. Being "good" isn't always enough. Faithfully attending church and trying to help out in church can, at times, bog down a person's faith, break hearts, bring disillusionment.
There. That's honesty. Somebody had to say it here. (sigh....why did it have to be me?)

This week I am working in the backwoods logging country of West Georgia from Wisconsin. Before arriving I had a chance to briefly look over week 3 and load the weeks photo on my computer desktop. I had time before the trip to dwell upon the photo and the reflective thoughts about myself and the rest of creation, and our purpose. Last night we worked in the deep woods until well after midnight, high upon a hill, a valley below, the moon in full view, stars bright. What a blessing! God, myself and the beauty and majesty of his creation. I was in continuous prayer and thankfulness for hours. I pray the everyone can find their own photo this week. A gift from God our creator.Week 3: Somewhere in your input this week I heard: ”…gratefully allow your limitations to be public, yet prophetic” I am president of a non-profit board. I have been feeling the burden of everyone’s expectations of what I should be doing as we move through a difficult transition. This week I ‘opened up’, letting the board know what I can and cannot do, and inviting all to share in the burden. They now know my limitations and I no longer need to try to be ‘savior”. My prayer this week moved into very concrete action!

I am in week three and just got a job again after being unemployed for one month. A great insight I gained is while reaching out is the difference between someone sending me off after telling me that In need more support and counseling (which left me feeling devalued and confused) and others actually becoming my support and/or counselors during this time of great need (which sustained and empowered me) Incidentally, I am a social worker and addiction counselor and know that I am created to be of help to others. I am not "the source" though and hope that this retreat will continue to help me with finding and sustaining my connection to my creator. I am in the process of recovery from one month without salary, which in my situation is quite serious. I found myself faced with the possibility of being homeless and discovered how many resources one must have to actually look and apply for a job, which the homeless don't have. Feelings of depression and anxiety over my situation affected me at times by the inability to think clearly and came to an experiential understancing why the homeless become mentally ill. Having employment again, I am now moving on, one day at a time and using this retreat as as a resource. Thank you...

I love liturgical music. It often speaks to me more affectively than scripture, luckily much of it comes from scripture. The lyrics in my brain (I'm sure these are not right), "and the gifts we have, we are given to share. .... Let the Spirit of Life makes us one in deed. .... One the Love
that we share, one our hope and despair, one the cross that we bare."As I ponder God's creation this week, I count my blessings and look for ways to share. It has been a wonderful week of community, fellowship and harmony with my faith family. I am blessed, Alleluia! Alleluia!

Week three...because of where I live...will be especially easy--and delightful--for me. Many years ago I left a busy life in Chicago for the wide open spaces of Arizona, and lived, for 8 years, among the Hopi Indians--still some of the most traditional of Native American tribes. And in that setting, and my current one here on the outskirts of Tucson, I am daily reminded of God's magnificence, power and love. Every window I look out of...every drive I take...everywhere I turn is literally like a picture postcard. it's all just so beautiful: the majestic, cactus studded mountains and mesas that turn deep pink and red at sunrise and sunset...the big, bright, turquoise skies.

Iin the blast furnace heat of summer, one is humbled by God's power and brought to know our own powerlessness by comparison. We are at the mercy of it all, and one false step, one moment of carelessness, can be the end of our lives on this earth. But even in the most seemingly desolate parts of our desert...there is incredible beauty, too. The silence. The stillness. Which allows us to hear real selves, calling, from within.

Just seeing all this laid before me everyday is a blessing and a reminder of God's love. I am never bored with it. My daily commute is a prayer of thanks. It will be wonderful to meditate even more on this this week!

Week 3 is over and I would love to stay with it, but will move on. I revelled in becoming more deeply aware of all God's gifts in nature and the world around me. I sat frequently in one of the chairs and looked out over not only that vista but the many God has allowed me to visit and marvel in. I have read over Week 4 and it scares me. There are areas, like health, that I do not see how I will ever be able to be indifferent to. Is that truly what I am being asked to do? I will pray and continue and look for the Holy Spirit to show me the way.
This was a good week for reflection. I spent a few days with friends by the Shore. I was meant to be working but weather wise it was very nice and wonderful to walk the shore and take conference calls looking at the rolling waves!

So not difficult to praise, revere and hope to be of service. I finished the week fishing in the Poconos in what must have been almost perfect Fall weather with the colors starting to turn.

The one part of the reflection that I still find difficult is the reflection that "this is for me". I need to continue to reflect on God's personal love for me and I resolve to continue to open myself to what he wants me to do. Week 3
Wk3 I have a bit more time this week. I listened to the audio three times and able to appreciate creation.
it is somehting I realised from the gift of God when I was in my childhood that I am able to enjoy the peace and quietness with nature. Even now after some gardening, I sat down in the twilight before dark thanking god for his creation.
At week 3 when I was relfected on this week photo I realize that His plan for me is so great and in same time this is placed so specific way as like this nature what is created around me.
And this is filled me with great gratefulness to God, that He is placed all things so specific ways. This is so encouraged for me because this is that what passed away all my worries about my future. While I know that He have just this solution for this hard circumtance where I`m now.
I just want to thank you for having this guided retreat online . I am now into week three .At present the only things that I want and need to share with you is that I am delighted to have this opportunity to be guided through this program. thank you
Hello all, I just needed to say that this week’s photo is the one I can really relate to. The earlier two weeks of the baby and child with mother were very difficult for me to relate to. As I shared in the first week, my parents were World War II survivor’s, and suffered deep emotional wounds. I did not find solace in their arms. After many years of therapy and prayers there is a peace and forgiveness. Today, I find myself as my mother’s care giver. I am there for her emotionally, physically and spiritually. ( My father died 16 years ago) This week’s photo , the readings the nature, is what sustained me as a child and does today. I find it difficult to sit still in church these days- however, a walk in the forest nourishes my spirit. Thanks for letting me share. Week 3
Yes, I stayed awhile at the Harmony week. Why? Not because I found harmony in my life but because I found discord in my life, my marriage, and my whole day. So, I took six months to seek the harmony that I knew I needed. With spiritual direction I learned about: putting boundaries on what I do and say and even more importantly I am putting boundaries on what I allow others to do and say to me. I learned about bipolar disorder, I learned more about prayer and meditation and I reread some of the “for the journey.” Now I am ready to move ahead.
I'm about half-way into Week 3, and I'm so pleased and want to comment on some of the sharings from others . . . also, share a couple of special moments this week I've experienced.

First: The sharings from others are so special. I'm moved by the sincerity and love from so many. Also, their ability to express deep, deep emotions and thoughts! I am honored to be a part of this group. How brilliant that the Father is showing us our 'brothers and sisters.' This is huge! I am an only child. Being in this Retreat with you means a lot to me. Thank you. And I pray for you, too.

This morning as I entered the day in prayer and reading, I picked up a little booklet dated l974, by Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, a positive-thinking- teaching Christian minister who very much reminded me of my dad . . . also a Christian who lived to about the same age as Doctor Peale before going to be with the Lord. (91-yrs.) I loved and admired both men . . . such strong character and faith.

As I handled the little booklet I was immediately reminded just how long I've been studying, and searching to know more of God's love, his Truth and his words. (Was actively pursuing more of God way back then in l974. God kept leading, I kept following.)

As I read Doctor Peal's story about a friend's miracle in his life . . . a wonderful, positive story, I was impressed to read Psalm 62 which Doctor Peal referred to as he spoke about his friend and Hope. His friend, who always seemed to have so many troubles, finally got his miracle . . . and it was inspired then manifested by HOPE!

Reading Psalm 62 my spirit began to stir! I could feel creativity activating; a strong desire to write, paint, sing, dance, praise God! A strong "Yes, Lord" . . . "Yes, yes, yes. I know that you love me and are always with me, and I do want to praise you always! And I do have HOPE! I know it is your grace, your love, and faithfulness which gives me Hope."

Later, I was listening to the wonderful Franciscan Priest, Father Benedict Groeschel, as he delivered a teaching on HOPE! And he too emphasized the beauty of God's word, HOPE, and Psalm 62. (I didn't plan this . . . the booklet, and the radio program . . . but, I'm as certain as I can be that this morning the Lord twice affirmed me in his Word . . . HOPE! Not once, but twice! And these two affirmations 'fit' in the beauty of this third week, in grasping the significance of being an imporant part of the larger perspective, and why it is so important to get that down in our spirits with the love that the Father has for us, and how he longs for us to recognize it. It's very exciting! Thank You, Father!

Blessings to each of you!
I am following this retreat, now in week three, which begins to tie together two important strands of personal and spiritual growth for me. Weeks 1 and 2 were about the “inward journey” and now in Week 3 we are beginning to let the “outward journey” come into play. We all have these two paths to follow during the course or our lives. In this sharing page, we are teaching and learning from each other about our two journeys. The inward journey takes us into our own life and soul and presents an important horizon and opportunity for change. The outward journey takes us into society and our relationship with our fellow man. From there we can learn about our unique talents and then find our own special way to serve others, as Jesus commanded. Peace to all.

I found all of this on line, after a college hunting trip for my son to Holy Cross, but I am the one who has received the education.
-- David, 50 years old, living and working for a time in China, born and raised in Buffalo NY.
During week 3 I am feeling slower to the creator. I am seing his harmony in the beauty of the creation. I feel ever closer to him as I see and observe how God is everywhere.
-- Lana
I have forgotten what I am here for. I was chasing something that is gone, the love of my wife whose heart has left. I have to feel in my heart the love of the lord and serve him with all my heart and desire. It will be a work in progress but the outcome will be positive forever.
greetings to all of you. and thank god for the sharings. im getting into some routines with the retreat which are working for me. now on the 1st day of the week i scan through all the written matter including the sharings and then go back each day and focus on smaller parts to see where they lead me. this week as i have remained troubled about my decision not to accompany my son and his family on their move i was seeing no clear indicators until i was glancing through the sharing and 2 people spoke of their children and grandchildren. and it was a blessing for me. now i shall let the young ones go to their adventurings and i think i can go on with what i do. as a recovering addict i have the greatest peace when im amongst my meetings and my people and here in this beauiful place i have been given to live in i have a balance which is working better than i ever recall my life working. with a combination of solitude and time with my people . at the end of the 3rd week it felt to me as if i could see myself placed in the setting god has palced me in but not quite sure of what role i was meant to play. i entred the 4th week wanting to remain in 3rd and UNDERSTAND but i had already promised myself to be obedient to the pattern that the wise people who had formulated this retreat will have created. so i do the week starting each wednesday which is when i began. i resist the temptation to go more quickly or more slowly even if i feel i have either mastered it or not grasped it. and last week it seemed to me i hadnt grasped it but i think gods grace will work unseen. after years of na and aa meetings i am accustomed to this way of being taught.
thank you to the 2 men who spoke of being grandparents. i love my family and was blessed to be brought out of drug addiction to raise the 2 children and become a grandmother. but when i place that role above the other callings god has for me i become spiri! tually ill at ease . when it is all balanced i have peace and joy .
for me the inspiring people came in a rush of memories and now im paring them down to see what it really is that has inspired me. i feel the unfreedoms . i heard a man say last year that there are anchors caught on something deep and unknown that stop him from sailing free and that makes sense to me. please continue the sharing because it is helping me greatly specially without a religious community of my own. yours.
-- Nell
I'm well into week 3. Up to now focusing has been difficult for me. Since I'm doing this retreat I see no benefit in judging myself. I believe I am focused because God is doing it for me. As I've heard it said "progress not profection"
Pray for me I'll pray for you
Bob I'm well into week 3. Up to now focusing has been difficult for me. Since I'm doing this retreat I see no benefit in judging myself. I believe I am focused because God is doing it for me. As I've heard it said "progress not profection"
Pray for me I'll pray for you
well. i suspected when this week began that the peace and grandeur of the view may lead to some strange new places . and it has. the concept of being created by god so that i can carry out his desires for me has made sense and something has registered with me as well as far as everything in my world each day being specially and specifically put there for me to use so i can carry out gods wishes for me . i have thought that for a while living up here on this hill and looking out over the world. i know i am able to pray for the unseen people out there. and it looks often like a wonderful stage setting to act out a life on.
i dont have a catholic background so i must sound naive to many of you in my understandings and the untutored searching .i am so glad to have you all out there. this week i am torn in some decision making as my son and his young family prepare to move to a mountain city some distance from here. it will leave m! e here in this place without any family members and in a community that i have only been in for app 5 years. in that 5 years both my parents have died in our hometown. there is a rift between my siblings and me. but i have been blessed with 2 little grandaughters and am Nana . my son who had battled is healthy and happy . a year ago i had bright promise of family all moving here to live near me and now they are all leaving . so i sit on my porch and look out over the world with this weeks theme and try to keep my focus. that god has created this - for me to use to carry out his desires for me. i feel called to stay here which leaves me and jesus sitting on the porch looking out. and i wonder - my heart seems to be cracking apart but something tells me there is god work in this for me. and who knows how it will change me. and smiles come now and then. i cant recall how i even found the creighton site and then to know this will end on the eve! of my 57th birthday delights me. once more into the void dear lord.
a fortunate image for this week- especially to allow NOTHING at all to become too big. and im also allowing NOTHING at all to be too small. when im not weeping for the thought of 2 little girls wihtout nana about in their daily lives - i have a sense that there is work god wants to do in me and work he wants me to do which cant really be done with them around. even if its only falling apart a little more. standing under the cross. isnt always for children to onlook. love to you all. this is a grand adventure
-- Nell from the Tweed - Week 3
I'm a little shakey.I think I'm still in shock from the first two weeks. I've had knowings and moment of bliss that I can't discribe. I've also found myself before images to awful to bare. I could only hide my face and ask God to take them from my sight.
Right now I'm trusting the process and moving on with week three.
Pray for me. I'll be praying for you.
Bob - Week 3
this weeks photo touched me . i live high on a hill and often sit looking out over the world (without the wine since im a recovering alcoholic/addict ). this is a photo of my daily place where i can get perspective on my life. very strange things are happening as i go into the 3rd week. i am interested to see what the week brings. for now i just wanted to share this beautiful place that god has placed me in. on the next hill a little yellow pony lives amongst some fine racehorses and i love that yellow pony. i think mebbe im gods little yellow pony. not as fine as the reachorses in some ways but special neverthelss and then i look further to the east all the way to the ocean. nell.
I had fallen by the wayside in my daily retreat.
I let guilt and sorrow overwhelm me because I blamed myself for my daughter's death.
I hid and cut myself off from others.
And so I returned to week 3 to start again at that place.
Psalm 138 tells us we call on God and God answers.
I realized I had not called upon God, but remained locked in myself, hiding and prideful.
In my kitchen this morning I stand with coffee in one hand, but both arms raised and cry out, "God ! God help me!" - Susan
Weeks 1 and 2 were draining for me. I have been seeing a psychologist for about a year and this was ground I have covered so many times. At least my psychologist is Christian and we do talk about my life spiritually and secularly.

Week 3 has been a relief and a joy. To focus on the exterior has been refreshing. To thank God for everything in my life, that everything can help me towards attaining my goal of being closer to God and the purpose for which I was created has been eye opening. Even the difficult aspects of my life can be used to achieve this purpose.
Even for someone who’s studied art history as little as I have, “perspective” is a loaded term. It calls to mind the flatness of painted spaces before the renaissance, the dawning of a “natural” perspective with its infinite “vanishing point”, and, much more recently, David Hockney’s inversion of that renaissance perspective, which seems to collapse toward the viewer. The idea that all of creation is for my salvation felt very much like David Hockney’s collapsing perspective: it seemed like it should be going “away” from me, toward God, not toward me. It is an enormous, often over-sweet burden, like a debt of sumptuous gifts.
Some things—like coffee—are easier to envision as helping me toward salvation. But what about that person who despises me, who ridicules me, who bullies my family members? Seeing that person as a gift is a worthwhile struggle. Week 3
- Tom, Pennsylvania
I am on week #3 trying to catch up to the rest of you. The power of the sharing part is strong. One person wrote “the desire to desire….” At first I thought there was a mistake. Surely, the writer meant “the desire to change.” But no, when I reread the line it was meant to be just that. Not just the desire to change but even the desire to desire is valued by our God.It reminds me of the title of a play “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” I want to see it someday. I laugh at the irony. I thought about it in terms of our retreat and rewrote it this way…Christ saying to us, “I love you, you’re not perfect, let me help you change.”
I am new to this retreat and I want to thank God for the opportunity to share my thoughts on this reading for Week 3. St. Ignatius's thought that the earth and everything in it was created for me. I'm not comfortable with that wording. I recognize that his words don't give us license to abuse the earth's offerings in order to build some kind of unnecessary surplus for me. I feel that the earth and all its systems was co-created with me rather than for me and it is my responsibility to care for the earth and to take from it only what is necessary for life.
God bless,
Mary D.
Am I doing enough?...or
Am I counting too much on myself?

Am I being complacent?...or
Am I being proud ? These are the questions I woke up with this morning
on a holiday with time to reflect

Later, after praying and doing the retreat, my answer was this prayer

I certainly chose the right activity to start this week's retreat. I went fly fishing! On a beautiful fall day, in great countryside, with cooperative large brown trout it's hard not to give great thanks for all that we have. I find the reflection on praising, revering and serving very motivating as I went about my work this week.I contrast how I felt for large parts of this week with one of my more common approaches to living … all things are there for my annoyance especially if they get in the way of what I want to do or feel I should do at that particular moment. I thank God for his presence in my life and I pray to refine my desires so that I find His purpose for the next few years of my life with real clarity.
On Sunday, I went outside to a quiet park setting to try and ease my tension and appreciate the beauty of God's creations. As I sat I noticed a man put several bags of groceries on the sidewalk and then I saw why. He was approaching a woman and toddler. She put the child down and the man opened his arms wide from several feet away. With a look of utter delight, trust, and love, that baby ran on his unsteady little feet straight to Daddy, who scooped him up. This is what is meant by becoming like a little child -- leaving the safety of our own world, and then running toward Our Father with trust, even though we could very well stumble. I pray that I may grow more like a child in trust that my Father will catch me and will always love me and that I will always journey toward His waiting, open arms. When I open my eyes, I discover such graces.
-- Denise
I am in week 3 and struggling. In my head I know that God loves me unconditionally but in my heart, I just can't seem to "get it". I think I am trying to see too big a picture and am being overwhelmed by the evil and greed that permeates our world. I pray that I can simplify my thoughts to being able to handle them. I live in the mountains of Montana and use the beauty around me for perspective. Maybe I will understand more as the week goes on.This is to say thank you to the woman who wrote about the dream she had about her father, who had sexually abused her as a child. In the dream, she was a young woman and her father was "cleaned up, handsome, and not drunk". He helped her across the street & says he is sorry for 'pulling her' & 'treating her like a little girl' and she says 'that's okay, you are just getting to be the daddy like you really wanted to be'. And I, too, was crying...I was not sexually abused by my Dad, but he was unfaithful to my Mom &, really, me & my brothers, he drank too much and left us alone when my Mom was at work, thinking that he was with us. I would lie in bed crying & praying that he would come home so there would not be an argument. But it never happened that way. My Dad died when I was 27 yrs. old. I always wondered if he was able to get to heaven. He never went to Holy Communion for all the years I can remember. I had a dream where he came to me in a store in the neighborhood where !
I lived as a child. I ran to him, thinking he had come back to life. He said, no, he just came to let me know he was alright and that "I've been talking to him since I got here." That was it. I believe it was a way of God telling me that he was not in hell and I was comforted. Today, though, as I read how your Dad said he was sorry to you, I started crying so hard, because my Dad never said that to me and I felt, all of a sudden, as if he was right there with his arms around me telling me how sorry he was for all the pains he caused me then & the painful memories I am having now because of them. That dream I had of him was nearly 23 years ago. I'd like to think our wonderful God sent him back to me today to finally say how sorry he is & for me, too, to say out loud to him the same words you said to your Dad in your dream, 'that's okay...' It has been such a blessing for me. It's all because you had the courage to tell us all about your deepest pain and by doing that helping, I'm sure, not only me, but many others. I'll pray for you and all o f us who journey together.
I am in week 3 and struggling. In my head I know that God loves me unconditionally but in my heart, I just can't seem to "get it". I think I am trying to see too big a picture and am being overwhelmed by the evil and greed that permeates our world. I pray that I can simplify my thoughts to being able to handle them. I live in the mountains of Montana and use the beauty around me for perspective. Maybe I will understand more as the week goes on.
Before I started the retreat I was very sucidal. My husband has a very negative attitude and criticises everyone. I get so fed up most of the time in defending the whole world and having a positive attitude. I also worry too much about our 2nd son. I refuse to accept God's will for him. He's a very clever boy but discontinued his studies. He hangs around with drug addicts and I'm afraid of what might happen to him. So I have engaged myself in a few regular church activities to be of service to others and keep myself busy in the weekends. Now I'm in front of a big cross road as my husband wants to retire in a year and return to our country. I do not want to follow him as our sons are not yet independant. So I keep praying and trusting in the Lord to give me courage. I ask Him a lot of questions and I hope that someday I'll have my answers.
I love the picture this week and was so happy to see it. The first 2 weeks the photos made me very uncomfortable.
I don't feel tuned in to this retreat, or I feel I fall short of everyone else's efforts. Hard to put into words.
I have a big problem praising God and a bigger one loving Jesus.
I read some of the sharing and went back to the picture of the week and pictured myself sitting on the right side of Jesus. Very very comfortable. I want to be close to him, just don't know how. This picture is enough for me for now.
Thanks to all who have shared here.Today is a great day for smiling.
I’m near the end of my third week of the retreat. The first two were so positive, such joyous experiences, that I knew a let-down was inevitable. Now, at week three, I feel distant from the Lord, mostly because I have been caught up in the U.S. election. It feels as though this involvement leaves no room for "spiritual" things. Yet, as the morning prayer puts it, "may all my encounters, reflections, even the frustrations and failings, all place my life in your hands." In other words, it need not be just the so-called "holy" moments I place in God's hands; rather, I place my life in His hands -- the totality of that life. Yesterday, I tried something daring: I prayed in words that revealed my "unacceptable" thoughts. A sample: "Lord, what I really want today is admiration and praise. Those may not be worthy goals, but I long for affirmation. Help me to accept my own vanity, my own weakness and need for reassurance." Immediately, I saw that acknowledging certain qualities in myself, speaking them aloud, could help me react to the strivings of others with more compassion. The tension between a time for reflection and solitude and a time for political and social involvement remains strong. I'm a feast or famine sort of person, one that tends to go off in one direction. The idea of starting work or a new project with a silent prayer, a simple raising of the hands to God -- that helps.
I struggled in week three, mostly with the idea that all the world is there all for me. It seemed intellectually dishonest and self-absorbed, and I could hardly get past those obstacles. Then I remembered the sharing someone did about the idea of God having tattoes of our names written all over. Although I am sick of tattoes in general, I love this idea of God with tattoes, with my name among them. This became my week three, and seems the only way that I can hold onto the week. I am better in week four, because I do have have my heroes.
The beauty of nature reminds us of the power and splendor of God and his kindness and care for each of us. This thought helps us to focus on the actions of God in our personal lives and understand what it means to reverence and glorify God. Week 3
I am happy to have had the ooportunity to concentrate, thank and appreciate all the blessings in my life.   I was not feeling very well this week fighting off a virus.

Thanking God did not come as easy as it should have. I did not have much left to give to others.  I still feel that I am not quite open to God's love. I still feel alone when I know I shouldn't. I still feel unappreciated when I know I shouldn't. I still feel lonely when I know I shouldn't. I am still trying my best and will continue with this retreat. I look forward to the day that God is enough for me to be thankful for. Week 3
My week number 3!!!! I loved the poem "by Rilke". I really would like to know God's plans for me.... I prepared myself for different things, not for the things I do now.....but, even when I do not understand...I continue my conversation with Jesus... step by some ways, the door opens by itself....maybe someday I will have the big picture and I am going to know the entire plan He has prepared for me......
I'm in the third week of the retreat and I've been struck by the phrase that our God "is not outdone in generosity."  This is a great source of comfort and reveals the compassionate and giving nature of God.
In a time when the world needs peace and restoration, I am finding this even for myself. My hope is that I can resolve some of the inner turmoils that we all experience and draw closer to God in my daily living.  Even consciously realizing that "He is near" gives a new sense of hope and security to me each day.
May the grace of the Holy Spirit bring each one of us on this journey into a deep and lasting relationship with God.
Through part of Week Three of the Retreat I was praying to want to or be able to praise God.  It seemed like it was so strange in me that I felt like I, for no apparent reason, could just not praise God.  I did not know why I was going through this and I felt quite ashamed of this.  I talked to God in prayer (and had no problem with offering prayer in general for petitions etc.) but just had this block to praise as it seemed.  Then one day during the week I was sitting in Chapel when the sun was setting and shedding beautiful light across the chairs and floor of the Chapel.  It was beautiful!  In the midst of this in my mind I just started singing the part of the hymn "We praise you O Lord for all your works are wonderful.  We praise you O Lord, forever is your love."  Then it hit me:  I am praising God!!!!!!  God had answered my prayer to allow me to be able to praise Him.  This hymn in my head was something spontaneous that I had not contemplated but that just began.  Then God gave me the gift to be able to recognize that I was/am praising God!
This is week 3 for me in this retreat.  I am so grateful The Father has led me to discover this opportunity.  My tradition generally equates spiritual maturity with acts of obedience and service.  I have grown so much in just 3 weeks of reflecting upon the greatness of the Lord and the greatness of His love for me.  I am more at peace with the Lord because I am understanding in a very personal way that His love for me doesn’t wane when I fail Him and others.  I am starting to personally experience what I only thought in my head: that His love for me really is perfect because He is perfect.  I used to think the Father tired of me.  Now I am seeing He does not tire of me, like we do of others, because He is incapable of growing weary.
Beginning week 3 - I love this picture. To remind me to stop, and take time out to sit and talk with you, be with you. How symbolic the candle and wine- You God are the light of the world and the cup of salvation and all creation praises you. Thank you God for everything you have given me, especially for all those things that I forgot to thank you for or have taken for granted.

The two chairs - confession time,  why not. you know me already and still love me. I'm sorry for all the times I did not thank you for my life , my family. my children, job, and irritations in life.I'm sorry for doing my own thing not wanting to wait for your plan, trying to hurry up, going my own way. forgive me, God and change me to follow you patiently. teach me to pray, guide me in your way, and give me the strengh to endure.

I saw this in the church bulletin " each Christian needs a half an hour of prayer each day, except when we are busy; then we need an hour. -St Francis de Sales  Help me give you an hour, Jesus for you give yourself to me in the
Eucharist.and for this, I am truly thankful. p.s. Pour blessings on the priests!

I am on week 3 of the retreat.  I would love to say that it has been one, wonderful journey with no dark moments, but the truth of the matter is - there have been moments of incredible awe and love for God as well as moments when I beg God to please tell me why He created someone as obviously defective as myself.
I believe that God loves me, though.  I believe that there is more than I can understand.  I want to continue this journey with God, despite the incredible dark moments which threaten to overwhelm my heart and feelings.
Please, dear God, I know that You love me.  Help me to see You better, to follow Your lead, to be the person whom You want me to be.  I can't do it without you.
How can I let all of you on this same journey know how much the “Light” has been showed to me? It seems that everything that I see & hear & feel touches me so deeply, it can’t be described in words. Our wonderful God speaks to us in a language that each of us will understand. If you love nature, He shouts His love to you in its loveliness and power…if you love music, He sings a love song to you there…if you love people, He shows His love as they embrace you or laugh with you or cry with you or just listen to you…if you love to be alone, without noise or clutter, He speaks to you in silence. I list all these particular things, because that is how He shows me. Sometimes, though, I am tricked into thinking this is not true, that joy and suffering were not connected, and I never found a true peace. God helped me to forgive myself & others and let go of all that was blocking His beautiful Light from helping me to see this all so clearly. My prayer this morning is that you will be able to capture this peace & harmony, and that you, & all of us will really “let go and let God”. On the radio the other morning, the announcer shared that whenever He feels worried or troubled about something, he imagines our Lord cupping His hands around his face, looking at Him with such love, and telling Him, “Everything will be alright.” What a beautiful image!
-- June, Week 3
I am in week 3 and struggling. In my head I know that God loves me unconditionally but in my heart, I just can't seem to "get it". I think I am trying to see too big a picture and am being overwhelmed by the evil and greed that permeates our world. I pray that I can simplify my thoughts to being able to handle them. I live in the mountains of Montana and use the beauty around me for perspective. Maybe I will understand more as the week goes on.
I was moved by several Mass readings this week and they seem to fit into the retreat:
When Israel was a child I loved him,
out of Egypt I called my son.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
who took them in my arms;
I drew them with human cords,
with bands of love;
I fostered them like one
who raises an infant to his cheeks;
Yet, though I stooped to feed my child,
they did not know that I was their healer. Hos. 11:1-4

I find comfort in being reminded that we are like children to God. The reading makes it clear that despite our childlike understanding of salvation history and our ignorance of God's presence in our life, we a loved and cared for by Him. This thought gives me the peace needed of sit in a pair of chairs with Jesus, having a glass of wine with him, and looking out over a beautiful valley. Jesus, thank You for the grace to sit with You, to look over the expanse of Your creation, and be part of its peace. Truly, as paraphrased from Mathew 8:17- You take away my mental and emotional infirmities and bear my diseases so that I have peace.

Reading through the prayers makes me feel peaceful. Fine for your head to know that God loves you and has a plan for you, but when you are at a place in your life where you are not sure what direction that plan should take it is necessary to just remind yourself that there IS a plan and that if you watch daily that plan will be revealed to you.
I am definitely at a crossroad. All that I have been up to this time, teacher, wife, mother, friend has changed drastically because of my health. I need to watch and find out what God has me scheduled for next. I need to be of service somewhere. And, yes, to be served. I'm okay with that too. But I know that that isn't all there is. I need to reach out too. The days have been beautiful! We have had many happy family gatherings. Summer is a more relaxed, reflective time. I am confident God will speak to me of "What's next"

I took two weeks to do this week.  I had trouble getting into it.  But I realize now that the Lord was helping me to appreciate my ministry - music.  I lead a choir and the liturgy.  I always felt it wasn't much of a ministry, although I do feel right in it.  To give praise to the Lord , I am beginning to see that it is a very important ministry.  I also felt odd asking the Lord to help me, rather than my helping him.  But I sure appreciate his help. 
I am very grateful for his help, as a matter of fact.  I think that this is what I'm most grateful for this week, his help.  I am a very fearful person and talking with Jesus about what I fear and placing it in his hands hellps me to face my daily life with hope. 

I am coming to the close of week three; it has been an up and down week some stressing or distressing situations, but thank God each day I could lay in bed and reflect on something that was observed or felt that was of God.  I have been observing beauty which is easy do to this time of year,even though it rained most of the week. My drive to work helped me glimpse at the beauty of flowers and trees , though it is in the city I did search and find beauty. I was able to reflect this week on a past experience when I was on a mountain in Maine and watching the sunset with my husband... it was so incredibly beautiful with colors that were so vibrant and glorious that I actually broke out in a quiet song on the drive down the mountain.  I sang "sing to the mountains, sing to the sea, lift your voices, lift your heart , this is the day the Lord has made  let all the world  rejoice". I never had that kind of spontaneous gratefulness to God for His unbelievable creation . It was a gift to find that moment of reflection, it gave me a feeling of peace and hope that though my husband and I are often too busy with the daily grind and we have been struggling with closeness at this particular time in our lives; we both shared the presence of God in the beauty of that sunset on the mountain.  Even though my husband is not practicing the faith, He felt the presence of God in creation, which makes realize that God is waiting for us patiently and lovingly to find Him everywhere.

To pray that all that I ever am in life; and all that I ever do; and ever become in my life; that all this will be for the greater glory of God and all of God's revelations, is trully overwhelming me, and then I realize that I am a child full of wonder. 

As I start week three, I am again struck by the theme of the week: gratitude and a focus on the thought that all of creation is for me. Several years ago the thought occurred to me that perhaps I am the only one who is not yet saved, and everyone else is here to help me get there. When I think of things, events, and people from that perspective, everything becomes ‘acceptable,’ and takes on immense value. I pray this week to be observant, to ‘notice’ everything, and to give thanks always. 

I'm the end of week 3. I tried to reflect some connections with God in all things around me.  involved in many church activities over years, I hardly realized all things that I have was created and is creating by God for myself. For me God was thought to be the Mightiest in the sky, not to be the creator I easily can find and experience in everyday life and my neighbors. Perhaps my cultural background- grew under strong Confucian social system-caused this more easily. But most important is to find out that during the third week. and the 3rd week retreat helped me to discover the purpose of my life and myself as God's beloved human being. I will start the 4th week confidently. 

I am finishing my third week on this retreat.  It is really turning into a great blessing from God to participate, thanks to all who have made this possible.  I did alot of noticing this week, and found the introductory notes on week three to be very helpful.  I like this quote "God has an intense desire to help us achieve the end for which we were lovingly created by God.  So, by our thinking and watching this week we are coming to know God better."  I've been trying to do this, to slow down and notice God's creation, and to thank him.  I've begun working at a department store and have a task of folding the shirts to go on the tables.  Well, my mom never folded my clothes, she usually just threw them on the bed or on the floor.  It is such a simple thing, but the act of folding the clothes gives me a sense of how God is teaching me to care for myself, by teaching me to fold clothes at the store.  He loves us so much he wants us to ! be clean, and look nice, and to be cared for.  I would have liked my mom to have cared enough about me to have wanted to fold my clothes.  I guess I always wanted to feel cared for.  Now I know that I have someone who cares for me, beyond all understanding, and that is Jesus.  I feel blessed and almost underserving of such caring, but I can say "thank you", and follow him.  

I am starting my 3rd. week and feel so much joy in my heart to be able to experience the loving patience of God in my life. The loving presence of my 91 yr. old Dad whom I love. I thank God everyday for the great love He has for me and my family and friends. It hurts to hear people think different about God but sometimes I feel that if God takes my Dad, I will understand why they feel and think that way. I pray this retreat will help me accept God's Will no matter what. Years back I used to say "I will do God's will no matter what " with so much faith but now I find myself holding back from saying it for many reasons which keep me from experiencing joy in my heart. 

I was reflecting on things around me and how each was there for the purpose of bringing me closer to God.  When I looked in my purse one morning, money which I had there belonging to someone else was missing. I was immediately very angry and blamed my son who had admitted to taking money in the past but this time he said he hadn't taken it.  I left for work angry and later in the day my husband called to tell me that there had been another friend in our home and we were both aware that he had been accused of stealing in the past. As a child I had been involved in sexual activities with others and I had a resentment towards my mother because I thought she should have known what was going on and  done something about it.  My attitude to my son was I won't let the same thing happen to him.  If he has a problem I will help him sort it out - except he didn't see any problem.  I though he would eventually confess or offer some explanation, instead he went on about his normal life and even went off and had his hair dyed blond (its naturally black) showing that he had other things of interest to him. I tried to find God in this situation and eventually got the message. If my first thoughts had been about God's purpose for me things would have been different. (3)  I had not been aware of how God wanted me to praise him and grow in awe and love for him and to recognise that the rest of creation was also there for that purpose.  I was too busy trying to sort out right and wrong in others.  I saw how readily I looked for faults in other people and didn't see my own. I should have been trying to love and help these two people not wait for them to get into bother and then offer to rescue them. It has brought me to a place of repentance but I still find it difficult to change.  As one of your prayers says "It would be easier if I was clear."

I am in the third week of this retreat, and have found God touching me at a very deep level. He has shown me areas of my past which he wants to heal, and then bring me into a greater awareness of the extent of his love. I have found a great deal of pain in my increasing self-awareness, especially in my close relationships, but also a surer grasp of the certainty of God's love for me. I call it facing my Deep Dark Pool, and then finding the inextinguishable light of Jesus at the bottom. Please pray for me as I work through this retreat, and particularly for a very dear friend who I know I have hurt deeply recently by my unthinking attitude. My thanks to this site for the opportunity to work through my relationship with God in this informal, non-threatening way. 

I just want to share a few thoughts with you today.  I am in week 3 and struggling every step of the way.  But I am truly humbled by this experience and both look forward and dread at the same time.  I was worried last night that I had not yet ready or thought anything about this week and then this AM I had an argument with my husband after the kids went to school.  I blamed him for every aspect of my life.  Then I came to work........logged on here..............saw the beautiful picture and realized I really needed week 3.  I feel so much better now and I even called him and asked him to take me to lunch.  I believe that it will take me longer than 34 weeks but for once I am trying to not "control" but to let God's love set the pace. We all need stuff along the way in life....................and this retreat seems to  fit me right now.  I hope that at the end of my journey here that I will have learned something.   I wish all of you who are on this journey or even just thinking about it all of God's blessings! 

I started this on-line retreat just three weeks ago.  I am a cradle Catholic and although I have always had "faith" and been involved in many church activities, I went through a long difficult period of my life believing that God and the Church had abandoned me.  A major crossroad for me came about a year ago when I attended a retreat whose theme was "Rediscovering the Depth of the Father's Love for Us".   I knew then that the Jubilee Year was the time for me to make things right with God.  In the fall I accepted an invitation to make a Cursillo Weekend and experienced the most wonderful spiritual awakening of my entire life.  God gave me the strength I needed to accept his love and forgiveness and to rekindle my relationship with him.  Then I came across this on-line retreat quite by accident, but knew I was meant to find it!  While reading the sharing this week, I realized that throughout my life I tried many wrong ways to "scratch acceptance from the walls" until I finally realized that God loves me just as I am, with all my faults.  I am most grateful for this precious gift and have placed my trust in God and will continue to enjoy his gifts and unconditional love along this journey.  I have received so much peace of mind and will be forever thankful for the strength and courage given to me which allowed me to overcome my fears and take that "leap of faith" which I so desperately needed.  Thank you God, for your constant love and attention.  

I am in the third week of this retreat and I feel a bit relieved to be here.  The reflection of the first two weeks had me looking at parts of my life I had long since forgotten and sort of wished I had never seen. I especially hoped God had never seen,  but I know better.  Now at 47 and as a recent "empty-nester" I feel the urgent need to really find my 'calling' in God's plan. I have been trying many types of meditative prayer and hope that this will be the breakthrough I need. I know that this is a marathon not a sprint and I must let God work on me in my busy life. I do feel frustration at times and a need to hurry up and 'do it' but maybe looking at the big picture this week will help me get that perspective I need. 

I'm beginning week three today.  It's taken me 4 weeks to get here.  Doing my picture album in one week was just too much for me, so I gave myself permission to take as long as I needed.   Reviewing my life story has revealed many things.  I'm grateful for that.  Thank you for your prayers, support and especially your honest sharing about your retreat experience. Warmly, Pam 

I am in week 3 of the retreat.  The past few days I have been fortunate enough to leave my desk and get back into "the field" - the DeSoto National Forest located in southern Mississippi - to do some survey work.  The particular area I am working in is truly gorgeous and awe-inspiring - a majestic longleaf pine forest replanted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s on what was a barren wasteland.... No roads, no trails, just woods.  I press my shovel into the ground and scoop the soil into the wooden-framed mesh screen.  The soil is cold and damp - almost makes my hand hurt - and smells of sweet sassafras root.  All of this just for me -- God is so grand and more than worthy of anything I could ever give him. I screen the soil and find the stem of an ancient spear point and a prehistoric pottery sherd (that's my job as an archaeologist).  A few feet away, an old Coke bottle from the 1920s lies half buried in the ground.  As isolated as it may appear, many people were here, many times before me.  What did this place look like to them??  Did they feel the same way??  Lord, thank you for showing me the big picture.

On a very bad day, one during which I realized that my 26-year-long career as a lawyer was over [with my present employer, anyway]; and finding no immediate employment prospects for a 51-year-old female lawyer, I happened upon the web address for the retreat. I've struggled my entire life with discerning what it is that God is saying to me. At that moment, I knew that I was directed to enter on the retreat journey. I am on Week 3. I have noticed that I am more open to what I perceive to be God's "messages", direction, or whatever it is that He uses to guide me. The best result of that openness occurred last week, when my mother, who is dying of cancer, said to me [mind you, as she was baking bread and making stew for my Dad's supper] that her illness and that of my father [who is also slowly dying] have taught my Mom to live in the day; to appreciate what each day sends; and to let God's goodness chart our course for each day. This is a woman of great faith. That faith has given Mom a peace that I hope will be mine one day. I knew that God spoke to me through my Mom; and I wondered whether I would have understood or attended to God's message had I not entered into this retreat experience wholeheartedly. My hope is that each of us retreatants experiences the hope and joy ~ and peace ~ that my Mom has practiced as naturally as she breathes. They are part of her. That condition of total acceptance of God's grace and love, and total faith and unwavering hope in Him, are what I need and yearn to achieve. Thanks for this opportunity to share. I enjoy greatly the other message which are posted. They are all inspiring and fruitful. I'll be back!

Have just begun week three, after visiting this site periodically for over a year.  The time seems right for this retreat now....   We became "empty nesters" this last month, and I have found lots more time to give to more serious reflection on my relationship with God.  During the last three weeks, the retreat has helped me realize that I can see God in others and anything, if I take a moment to look.  And when I do that, it naturally leads me to quietly praise and thank God...something I've been remise in doing much of the last 20 years or so. So, I want to say thank you very much to those who have created this retreat, and all of you who are on your own spiritual journey here.  To those of you who have asked for  prayers in your Sharing, you certainly have mine, and I ask for yours.  I look forward to the rest of the retreat, and pray that I will more readily see God in others as I grow in my relationship with Jesus.  May God bless all of you!

The guide for this, the third week, says that it's all about perspective, to not let anything get too big. 
First day and there is a giant thing that -- as it always does-- has taken away every ounce of trust and sereniity.  It's a giant fear, terror, that I'm going to be found out as bad, that what I'm doing is not good at all, that I will fail and everyone will know it.  This is a great insight, particularly since this is a lifelong problem--and I'm  55.  The pain is as bad or maybe even worse than ever.  It wipes out every other awareness.  I wouldn't recognize a compliment if it came my way.  I'm expecting the worst.  The constant thought that erupts within off and on all day is: it's hopeless.  Of course, I know it isn't hopeless.  I know that feelings are not facts, particularly where God is concerned.  I know this feeling is not rational, but it still is overwhelmingly paihful.  This must be the nugget of gold that God want me to focus on, an area He wants to heal. There's nothing to do but trust and walk through it.  I do hope I learn the lesson this time.  I want someone to take over my life for me, to take away the pain, to make all the hard things easy, to make something good happen.  That will be the Lord.  

For the 3rd week of the retreat I've taken the words of St. Ignatius and placed them on my computer screen at work.  This way I can reflect on these words.  It really helps, especially when I've had a hard day at work.  Even the bad times are put before us so we can achieve the purpose of praising God.       Donna W. 

This is the  beginning of my third week.  The 2nd wk of recollection has helped me realize the selfish nature of my past.  In particular, I remember years ago when I was in college, the Forbes Magazine cover depicted a man standing on top of the world.  The caption read something like, "The richest man in the world".  I used to look at that picture everyday and say, "That's me!"  That was my goal.  How foolish, narrow minded, and Selfish I was! Now this past week, many years later, I see the flaws in my own desires.  They served no purpose of His kingdom whatsoever.  I thank you Lord for holding me close to you through it all.  We are all truely selfish and desire to serve our own purposes.  Help us all Lord to see your glory and to desire to have your love fill us, thereby helping us to achieve the way of perfection. This revelation helped me to realize one thing:  I don't want to be on top of the world, standing over everyone else.  Instead, I want to be Under the world supporting it on my shoulders; serving it on my knees; and helping others to see how much disorder we create in the world by being selfish.  I understand much better now, when Jesus said we must deny ourself, we must die to ourself, and only live to love and serve others.  I know many people may find this strange, what I am saying, but I pray that God may reveal His Love to all. Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.
This retreat runs as a quiet theme as I go about my all too busy and  obstacle ridden life (at the moment)  Thank you!  There is absolutely nothing I can do except trust and put my life into God's hands as events  over run me in week 3. 

Just began week three.  Sitting here looking at the photo and transposing it to all the things the Lord has given me. Everything I have; a wife, kids, a home, income, reasonable health at 65, a car, ability to travel a little, gratitude, etc., is a Gift from God that I hardly deserve. All I did was what I was told to do when I went to AA 25 years ago.  Put the plug in the jug, make meeting and don't drink.  What I learned was to live my life one day at a time and put my trust in a Higher Power.  I have chosen Jesus as my Higher Power and I have yet to be disappointed.  Although I have had many ups and downs, disappointments and victories, everything so far has worked out to my benefit.
When I began to redraw the picture of our world for this week of retreat (3), I found that it is hard to say anything original as the picture has remained maddeningly the same .There still exists war, conflict, abuse, evildoers, violence, inhumanity, injustice greed and lust for power. Thank you Lord for showing me the Light in Darkness , for Your selfless gift, for Your Willing to save us through Your only Begotten Son "JESUS" who was nailed on the Cross for our salvation. It leads me to hear Jesus saying to me when I look up to the Holes of His Hands, Feet and Side : "you are the one another for whom I was crucified ."
Thank You Lord, for showing me that without this Cross I cannot see the one another, but only myself. I pray that I may grow in the Love and Wisdom and to live in conformity to Your Will 

As I ended week 3, I felt a bit like St. Francis, being in tune with nature and knowing the maestro of it all. I noticed in detail the colours of bluejays, cardinals, doves and sparrows. All the shades, and these fellows were showing off their God given plummage. The Lord gave me a treat. I stood close to a bluejay, who stared at me as he waded in a tiny puddle of water and bathed. This was amazing as I've tried many times on my own to get close to him.  If I just let go and let God everything happens smoothly. I wonder why I make things hard for myself by trying too hard. This past week, the Lord keeps telling me to "be". I tend to "do". Being fills me with peace and I enjoy the day no matter what happens. I am writing down many painful memories from the past as I move on in this retreat and they no longer scare me.  I no longer feel guilty writing about my abused childhood.  It's uncomfortable but that will pass. God is gracious. This is an area that God wants me to embrace.  Here  I go and I'm not alone. Yeah!!    You may use my name. Irene. I have a long way to go, but God's not in a hurry.

I was ready to start Week 3, when I read Why Start on September 16.  Now, I am going to slow down a little and restart on September 16.  First, I have found it a little hard to review 72 years in such a short time.  Second,  I think it will be better if all is in harmony - the retreat, the church calendar and the Liturgy of the Hours. Thank you so very much for all that you are doing for all of us in this retreat.  Like many others, I have never had a chance to make an extended retreat and I intend to make the most of this opportunity.  Pax et bonum.

This morning I went out to get the newspaper a little before dawn.  The constellation Orion was still blazing in the sky, his arms raised in joy as he danced.  I thought, Orion must be permanently in the third week of his retreat, where he has discovered that the purpose of his existence is to know, love and serve God!  I am so happy.  This retreat brings serenity to my life in a time of turmoil, albeit joyful turmoil:  my younger son is getting married October 7th, and we love his bride-to-be very much already. You may use my name.  I am Anne Cuddeback 

It is the 3rd week of this retreat ,but it's actually taking almost 6 weeks to accomplish. I love the Prayers to begin the day, as I read them out loud in my office with the doors closed, I'm reminded of how important it is to consult the Almightly before proceeding with the busines of the day, after all ...he is the big cheese around here. It's like having a weekly staff meeting with the boss. Even with the constant reminder surrounding me as a full time youth minister, I forget this very important thought, I can hardly imagen what it was like when I worked in non-church setting. As I look around me  and see all the blessings I have received....I am in awe of him more and more. It's a cool thing to experience and I only pray that I may help those around me to  share in this experience as well. 

I am in my third week of the exercises, and was very touched by the photo album this morning.  I have copied these for my own use - to put all over my house as reminders of scripture passages and their meanings in my life - and have also emailed several of them to my son - who has suffered for over 30 years with medical problems.  I felt these passages and the pictures would help him in his suffering - to be able to relate to others in similar situations and also know that God is always with him.  Now I will go on to the other parts of this week's exercises.  But wanted to share how inspired I was by this album. 

The picture of the village (3) brings tears to my eyes, only when I imagine the lives of the people there.  I started asking myself if I could imagine pictures of scenes around the world, where I had looked but not shed a tear.  With each scene, I tried to imagine the suffering of the people, and I could feel the sadness and outrage within me.  Then I sat with the horrifying image of the two university students, who tied another student to a fence post, and tortured and killed him, simply because he was gay.  Oh, Lord, how do you feel?  Oh, how you must weep!  Oh, how your people abuse each other!  Oh, thank you for the image of the cross - your response!  When I ask, "how much do you love us?" your response, "this much," is even more powerful for me!  Thank you!

As I start week 3 after a bit of a layoff as I completed week 1 & 2 during lent. The theme of  being open to let God into our lives struck me . I have been blessed with the material comforts of life, and have no worries in this area . However during the past five years I have felt that I need something more meaningful in my life . To date however I have been unable to find the right direction to move towards a more meaningful life. I have asked God for help in this area , with little success. What I believe is my problem , is my inability to be open to let God direct my life. He is no doubt giving me guidance , but I have not received his guidance due to my lack of openess to him.  God grant me the openess to be capable of  receiving the graces that I need to chart the direction that you have planned for me. May all people in the same situation as me strive to create that openess to hear God's plan for us.  

The photos, particularly the photo of those chairs (3), has sustained the background for me.  The "Getting Started" page helps me make this a real retreat.  I want to share that it is changing my day and my week.  It is getting easier to plug back into the reflection about the purpose of creation, and my purpose, by briefly returning to sit on one of those chairs.  At times, things get chaotic in my life, and from the perspective of this overview of my purpose, it all seem to make so much sense.  I think I'm understanding more what "finding God in all things" really means.
I am almost ready to conclude three weeks of my retreat.  And I feel like I have not even begun. I am in a rather isolated position so I can't find anyone else to share with.  I am grateful for this web site and hope that nothing changes to erase it from my being able to get in touch.   I want all that God can give me thru this site.  I have added Week Four photo to my desktop and also the photo from week three to help keep me centered on Week Three exercises.    I did have the picture of the mother and baby on the desk top, but removed it tonight, since Alexander was born yesterday, November 20.  7 lbs,   12 oz.  My granddaughter had a very easy birth.  So easy in fact that noone was prepared and the baby was birthed in the bed.  Brett, the father almost collapsed afterward, since he did not get to do the usual things in preparation of the birth.  Afterall this is the third child, and first boy.  There is something about this birth that is a center point in my retreat, I do believe.  But understanding it all has not become part of me.  While in my own everyday life I get very discouraged at all that I have to do to care for my husband.  But I believe I am worrying too much and am not really seeing what God is really doing for me.  Tonight is the first time that I have reviewed the notes that accompany the Online Retreat Guide - Week 3. I will return to the Week 1 and Week 2 to sort of establish myself more with St. Ignatius.  Jesus will show me the way. I feel tears coming, so guess it is time for me to retire.  The time is 12:00 midnight and another day is forming. In the Love of Jesus. 

I just finished Week Three, and it wasn't an easy week:  I skipped three days, felt guilty, forced myself to do four of the days anyway, and seemed as though I was fighting the process the whole time.  Very different from the first two weeks that brought me a lot of peace and acceptance -- things I lack, often.  I suspect God is letting me slog through some desolation to see if I really am going to stick with Her, or go off and be my usual over-energized, under-sensitive self.  The sharings from the 51-year-old female attorney and from the woman who is wondering if a relationship she treasures is really from God or is actually an obstacle struck me hard.  I am wondering what on earth God is planning for me, likewise a middle-aged female attorney, who is "stuck in a moment, and I can't get out of it," as the U-2 song says.  Do I challenge the relationship to be the kind of friendship I had envisioned and that I was sure God had given to me just for that purpose; or let it go?  All week I seemed to fight the idea of trying to find "purpose" because I am just trying to BE without asking "why?" all the time. I could use a little more heart and a lot less brain -- shades of the Wizard of Oz!   I loved, too, the story from the man who used to wear his alcoholic dad's plaid shirt.  Perhaps what I need more than anything right now is that kind of symbol to lead me deeper into this restlessness and dissatisfaction that are plaguing me, to give a sense of coherence to my reflection.  The best news is that we're all incredible sinners, but God loves us just the way we are.  What a wild, profligate God!  You are in my prayers; please keep me in yours.
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