It is the time of year when I attempt to get away for a time of retreat and reflection with my monastic community in Holy Cross Monastery, Rostrevor. I am taking my retreat time this year in the week before my Summer holidays begin, to push 'pause' before some quality and quantity family time!
In Joan Chittister's book, 'The Monastery of the Heart.' An Invitation to a Meaningful Life. She reminds us that Retreat is a time for reflection on,
'the distance between what we say we are and what we know ourselves to be,'Retreat is about humility. Ensuring you have your feet on the ground, enabling you to ask yourself, 'Who am I in really?' The ancients referred to our need to forgive ourselves that when we reflect we discover that, 'we are less than we know we can be!' (The regret of the soul).
In my discipleship reflection and forgiveness are important partners. To be able to invite a fellow disciple to travel with you and help to unearth the little ways that we have begun to 'cut the corner'. The Rule reminds us that it is not so much the big things that we need to unearth but rather the the little ones. Sr. Joan is challenging on this point. My journey as an oblate is one that calls me to be attentative to how I am walking. I hope and pray that I may, as St Benedict encourages us, 'Listen!'
Psalm 139 The Message (MSG)
A David Psalm1-6 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead and you're there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can't take it all in!
7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.
13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.
17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I'll never comprehend them!
I couldn't even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
all the men and women who belittle you, God,
infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
Your enemies are my enemies!
23-24 Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.