If I could apply a theme song to my retreat/pilgrimage this year, it would be “Lord of Glory” by Tim Manion which begins, “Leaping the mountains, bounding the hills….” Indeed, I lept mountains of luggage, ran for buses, scrutinized train schedules, and wondered if I would ever make it to the Rhineland Mystics Retreat I was to attend in the Ascasian region of Western France.
Along the way, I realized that I was not on a trip to a specific destination but on a pilgrimage with God. A pilgrimage into the heart of God. God was in charge and after an initial struggle, I allowed God to take over. I’m still pondering the reshaping God did in me. In the meantime I’d like to share a bit of my journey along with a few questions for your reflection.
In this picture the road winds around the monastery as it cuts through the French countryside. The monastery chapel was built in 1410 by Benedictine Monks as a “daughter house” to a larger monastery in Marmoutier.
- Presented with a choice, which road do you take?
- How often do you pass by invitations to rest awhile with God?
I imagine these stairs are like those each of us walks into the heart of God.
- What do your stairs (into the heart of God) look like?
- Are they worn and smooth or are they rarely used?
Ponder this image in your mind’s eye. Spend some time in prayer with God – at one moment speaking, at another listening…how is God calling you to come closer?
The gates to the cemetery beside the chapel is that of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. Beyond these gates flowers adorn the graves of Sisters who gave their lives in service to God’s people as nurses, missionaries, teachers and social workers in the Ivory Coast, Togo, Morocco, France and Germany.
They gave their all for God.
- What am I willing to give to God? My all? Or just a little bit?
A retreat is not merely a “vacation” with God, it can be a pilgrimage with God where we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to unite our very selves to God and to be changed by the experience.
I encourage everyone to take time to “come away to a quiet place” with God. The Dominican Sisters of Peace offer many opportunities for retreat and Spiritual Direction. You can find a list of resources here.
God is waiting for you.