Friday, June 29, 2012

Thoughts From A Long Island Retreat

I attended a spiritual/religious writers' retreat titled, "Writing Your Way Home," this week at Our Lady of Grace Spiritual Center on Long Island, NY. The retreat was led by S. Paula Gallagher, IHM, of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was thought-provoking and affirming. The retreat gave the participants an opportunity to write, share, to give witness, to be affirmed and to pray. We were fortunate to have Fr. Michael Greene, C.P., a Passionist priest celebrate Mass each day. His heartfelt, sincere homilies and his kind way added a lot to the retreat.
The history of the estate, where the retreat house is located is fascinating. The house which is located on beautiful grounds was donated to the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1959 by J. Peter Grace, Jr. He offered the Congregation "a gift of land and buildings adjacent to his estate. Mr. Grace was head of W.R. Grace and Company, which owned a fleet of 35 ships, chemical plants and the Grace National Bank of NY as well as other business ventures...."
When you go on retreat, so much happens that it's hard to put it into words. S. Maria Regina, the director of the spiritual center/retreat house thought of a wonderful idea during the retreat to further promote the beautiful and peaceful house. So the fruit of the retreat, for all of us is already beginning to flourish.
I had a great experience during the retreat. I was standing alone in the library looking at the books on the shelves (I love books, especially religious/spiritual books and am drawn to them). All of a sudden a strong gust of wind threw open the large wooden/glass doors which cover a set of huge windows. The wind just blew right into me. (The weather was mild that day, it wasn't stormy.) I was surprised and bewildered. Was it the Holy Spirit?.....I'd like to think so........but it could of been just a gust of strong wind.
Just a few thoughts from the retreat, that were shared......that I wrote in my journal.......
"Expect goodness," "You are good enough", "There are many surprises awaiting us from God," "Remember each day to be grateful, " "Be intentional each day about being centered," "Be fully present to what God is doing in and around us," "Possess a hopeful heart," "Be receptive," "Maintain a healthy balance between prayer, contemplation and action," "All will be well," Be patient and persevere," Be truly present to others." These are just a few, there were so many tidbits of wisdom.
Here is a sample of my writing: (in response to the writing prompt..."I am thinking of......."
I am thinking of peaceful days of summer, enjoying sunshine, waves crashing on the beach, walks along the seashore. I am thinking of the beauty of summer flowers, bursting with color, created by the Divine Artist- a feast for the senses, these summer months ahead. I am thinking of how healing summer can be.
I read through books in the library and I came across this quote which struck me in its simplicity, by Aldous Huxley, "It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned all one's life and find that at the end one has no more to offer by way of advice than: Try to be a little kinder."
So I thought: try to be a little kinder, a little more compassionate, a little more caring, more patient, and learn as S. Paula said to live with unanswered questions, to live with mystery as it unfolds.....