Retreat Notes #5

    The view from my window this week

I'm away this week at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, MA.  I hold you all in my heart in prayer this week so in a way, you're here with me on retreat. To share my experience with you, I'll post occasional notes like the one below.  Please, come pray with me!


Tomorrow morning I'll be heading back home to Wayland so this is the last full day of my retreat here at Eastern Point.  If you've been reading my retreat notes here you know that I've had a a fruitful experience at the ocean's edge in Gloucester.
In this series of notes I've shared with you what I might refer to as the "content" of my retreat - some of the "stuff" I've brought to prayer and some of the blessings I've received in prayer.  As I mentioned last night, my whole retreat might be characterized as simply "having a little talk with Jesus."  In fact, however, the richest portion of my experience here has been the time I've spent simply being silent in the presence of Jesus.  A word about silence... There are about 40 of us here on retreat and the week is passed - in silence, the only exceptions being a daily half-hour conversation with one's retreat director and our prayer and song at the eucharist each day.  Although we eat together, there's no conversation at the tables in the dining room.  The rule of silence renders all our time here and every place in the building and on the grounds as open and receptive to how the Spirit may move in our hearts and minds.

As you can see, then, there's lots of silence here!  But I'm speaking of those particular moments every day when I intentionally placed myself in silence, in the presence of Jesus.  We Catholics are big on "the real presence" of Christ in the eucharist, and in the Word and in church gathered for prayer - and I'm a firm believer in all of that.  But there's a qualitative difference between being in the presence of someone and in the company of that person.  A few years ago on a Sunday morning in Rome, I was in the presence of Pope Francis as he stood on his balcony and gave his blessing to me and thousands of others gathered below in Saint Peter's Square.  I was in his presence, but not in his company.

It was especially that aspect of the Lord's presence that was real for me in new ways this past week.  In prayer in chapel, on an afternoon walk or sitting in my room, I found silence in which I found myself in the company of Jesus.  No, I didn't have a vision, I didn't "see" him, I didn't hear his voice, but his presence was real, real enough for me to know, without a doubt, that he was with me, that I was with him, that we were in each other's company...

Those moments of being in Jesus' company were not times of prayerful thinking or reflecting or musing or reading scripture.  Rather, they were moments without any "content," save the substance of simply sitting quietly with Jesus, basking in the warmth of his being with me, finding solace in spending quality time with my friend, not needing to speak or even imagine any words, just letting my heart speak to his and his to mine in that language known only to hearts yoked in love.
    Chapel at Eastern Point, late in the evening
Even that doesn't adequately articulate what I'm trying to share with you - but I hope it comes close.  And even more, I hope you will look for and find a quiet time and a quiet place just to sit in the company of Jesus...  He's there, waiting for you to join him, waiting to enjoy your company... waiting for you to bask in his presence, in his warmth, and to find the solace that comes in the silent company of one who loves you even more than you love him...

Thank you for your prayers while I've been on retreat and thank you for joining me through these daily retreat notes.  
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!




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