Friday, October 24, 2008

Back Home

Returning from Retreat
New and Improved, I Hope!

Perhaps you've been wondering if I'd dropped off the edge of the earth. No, I only dropped out for a while - ten days for my annual personal retreat. Does a contemplative nun need a private retreat? In a word, "Yes." Just as the Trappist, Thomas Merton, left the community of the monastery seeking solitude in his hermitage, all contemplatives need, crave, and desire time apart. It is a time of greater withdrawal and movement to a place of greater intimacy with God.

The place this year was a house in Vermont all to myself at the peak of the fall season. And it was glorious. The pastel drawing shown here was the result of an amateurish but very helpful effort to enter into recollection by concentrating my attention and being totally present to my surroundings. The result was a much deeper and more abiding sense of the total glory and immutable transcendence of God. All else just fell away. And what a relief that is! And what a sense of the freedom of the children of God comes with that blessed grace.

My time was further blessed by the availability of daily morning Mass nearby celebrated in a small parish worshipping community. A visiting priest from Nigeria offered short but intensely meaningful homilies so in tune with Redemptoristine spirituality that he became my retreat director without knowing it. I was in awe.

When I say the Divine Office privately, I like to use Psalms from Nan C. Merrill's book Psalms for Praying. In her translations, in accord with the spirit of the Gospel of John, she often gives God the name Love. Merrill's version of the Psalms is always a gift in retreat ime.

Another personal guide was a book by Robert Waldron, Thomas Merton - Master of Attention. Waldron reveals how Merton, influenced by Simon Weil, came to see pure attention as prayer. Jacques Cabaud, biographer of Weil explained, "...Attention is synonymous with contemplation...The mind remains in the state of suspension essential to contemplation. Attention is linked to desire. It is not linked to the will, but to desire."

Here are some snippets from my retreat pondering:

Sing with all the sons of glory, sing the Resurrection song!

The fruits of those who know LOVE are a blessing to all.
Nan C. Merrill

Let nothing disturb thee.
Let nothing afright thee.
All things are passing.
God alone sufficeth.
Teresa of Avila

Today is all I have and God is all I have in today.


Sr. Hildegard said...

Announcing a new feature! Comments appearing below every post. Just click on the word "COMMENTS" and you will get a chance to make your own contribution to this blog. I look forward to hearing from more readers. Blessings.
Sr. Hildegard

Dina said...

Welcome back!
Beautiful drawing.