This is the second in a series of posts in which I'm sharing some of my notes and reflections from my retreat, November 27-December 3, at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, MA. (The photo above shows the Blessed Sacrament chapel at Eastern Point Retreat House.)
Almost as soon as I settled into my room, I went to the chapel (photo above). This chapel is a large room with a bay window that looks out on the lawn and the rocks at the ocean's edge. There are chairs and pillows around the perimeter of the room which focuses on the simple tabernacle in front of the window.
You might not think it remarkable that I went to the chapel to begin my retreat - but it was. I've been on retreat at Eastern Point a number of times, the first of which was my ordination retreat in 1973. I know the place well and feel at home there. But on other retreats, I've spent more time in my room than in the chapel. The retreatants' rooms also overlook the ocean the view of God's grandeur is magnificent - and it's quiet in those single rooms. In past years, I've been distracted by the coming and going of others in the chapel and have found the solitude of my room more conducive to prayer. On a number of occasions, I've also been able to see, from my room, the sanctuary lamp in the chapel's bay window. Even from the distance of my room, the Eucharist seemed near.
So my trip to the chapel took me a bit by surprise, although at the moment it seemed very much the right thing to do. Stepping into the chapel I found two other retreatants there in prayer. I took a seat and began to pray and thank the Lord for leading me to this place and for helping to clear my head and heart of the concerns of parish life.
I was aware of the other two men in the chapel but was not distracted by their presence. In fact, I found it helpful that they were there. I had no idea what they might be praying, what they might be bringing to the Lord, what they might be hoping for from this week's retreat. But I knew we were all there for the same reason: to grow closer to God through quiet and prayer. Not at all a distraction, these two brothers of mine were offering me a silent witness and I found that helpful and supportive - and I thanked God for it.
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