Lasha Morningstar

WE ARE ONE

April 4, 2016

Retreat is a powerful word. Certainly it bears the connotation of failure - of backing away from the enemy, of losing the battle.

But there is another meaning to this word. Catholics turn it into a time of restorative power. To go on retreat means to withdraw from the everyday world to a place of seclusion, connect not only with your own inner voice but to also listen for God's whispers.

Businesses use time-away retreats for their employees as a corporate tool focusing on team building. Despite the informal nature of such a retreat, one is wise to realize this is a company event, and it is prudent to measure one's comments and actions accordingly.

Spiritually, seeking out a place of silent serenity is found in one of the most poignant verses in the New Testament. It is when Jesus retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray to his Father the night before the crucifixion.

In these turbulent times, people often use a retreat as a time to restore their soul.

Should time and/or money be a factor, one can fashion their own retreat.

You know what is conducive for you to create a welcoming atmosphere to a retreat. Maybe it is Gregorian chant in the background. Perhaps focusing on a candle's flickering flame allows one to mentally step into a sacred space. Use whatever routine works for you to set the mood.

Ideally, one's prayer time can be a daily retreat. Perhaps by making this regular visit with God, one is able to hear God when he speaks to them.

That is where I trip up. I'll get the nudge. Hear the whisper. Feel the knowing. But I blunder on, despite hearing the Holy One's guidance. Folly reigns each and every time I don't stop, listen and then follow God's path.

As Madonna House's founder Catherine Doherty advised: "With the gift of listening comes the gift of healing."

How many times have I said "Sorry" to God? Too many. Sometimes I wonder if he wants to reach down and shake me by the scruff of my neck.

The excuses are many. I'm too tired. Don't have time. There are so many other things I should be doing.

MURDEROUS DIN

Trappist monk Thomas Merton's words snap me back into God's reality. "Solitude is a way to defend the spirit against the murderous din of our materialism." Gulp.

Sometimes I feel like a bobcat appearing in the mists of dawn and again in the diminishing twilight trying to find my way in the forest of all the other animals who belong, who know their place, know that they matter in the grand scheme of things.

It is so easy to see God's plan for others. They have history, family, community. They belong. Finding one's own path is often like that bobcat, slipping through the forest glades in veils of light.

Sometimes, in fact a lot of times, one wonders, "What is my path? What does God want of me?"

Catholic activist Dorothy Day sniffed at such navel gazing, giving this pungent observation: "A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do."

What better time than now to jump back on our spiritual path? It is Easter, a time when we celebrate God's ultimate gift - his Son, Jesus.

Wisdom. Healing. Guidance. Forgiveness. He offers all of these treasures to us.

HEAR GOD'S WHISPERS

So I am right back at that starting point of retreat. Find the silence so I can hear God's whispers, feel his nudges in my thoughts. And listen. Listen. Listen.

Time for this bobcat to prowl out to the front steps. Make it the darkest of nights. Look up at the star-sprinkled sky. Watch for falling stars. Make a wish. Maybe two. Or more. And listen. Listen. Listen.

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)