Hearing about other Affiliate chapters holding retreats inspired me to ask our Northeast Florida Affiliates if they would like to hold a one-day retreat at our cottage, located one hour south of Jacksonville. Everyone responded with enthusiasm. Our Chapter had last gone on retreat in 2014, and we all felt the desire to do this again, even if just for one day.
We invited Monsignor Vincent Haut, a local retired priest, to lead us in our retreat and were excited that he was able to do so. After comparing calendars, we determined that everyone could participate on the last Saturday in October. As it turned out, one couple ended up unable to attend due to a funeral, but nine of us (plus one very sweet dog!) gathered with Monsignor at the cottage.
We began the day with each attendee describing what brought them to Maryknoll. Monsignor is a gifted spiritual leader who focused on the promises Jesus made to us about the Holy Spirit, as reported in John’s Gospel. We alternated between meeting all together and splitting up to discuss the latest lesson two-by-two. The weather was beautiful, leading us to spend a lot of time outdoors, enjoying God’s creation as we nurtured our souls.
We also nurtured our bodies. Each person brought a bag lunch to minimize meal preparation duties. We ended the actual retreat with a beautiful Eucharist around the cottage table. Then John and Mary prepared a simple supper for those who were able to stay longer.
I thank all the Chapters that inspired me to plan this retreat. Everyone who attended was blessed by the day we shared, and it is safe to say that our chapter has a new tradition!
Buen Vivir—“living in harmony and equilibrium with the cycles of Mother Earth, the cosmos, and life in all its forms,” caused me to reflect on Lent in some different ways. This Lent, we might do a few things to connect with all creation:
• Take a walk at least once a week and appreciate the beauty of nature—listen and let it speak to your heart.
• Connect with an Affiliate you don’t know well—if possible, someone outside your own country.
• Read a book and reflect/pray on our connection with all life. Check out Orbis books (http://www.orbisbooks.com) for some ideas.
• Make it a point to use that leftover food and be conscious of not wasting.
• Try a vegetarian life-style, if possible during all of Lent, or at least more often than on Fridays.
• Fast more frequently, in varying degrees: skip lunch and send the money saved to Maryknoll projects.
• Contact your state/local representatives and stand up against injustice. Many issues are described at the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, maryknollogc.org.
• Read NSFA or NTLH cover to cover, and pray for those mentioned.
• Volunteer at a homeless shelter or food pantry/outreach program in your area.
May some of these ideas, and other ways you think of to connect with creation during Lent, bring a sense of new life to you this Easter.