When I arrived at Pyramid Life Center in the Adirondack Mountains last month to lead a retreat, I was excited but nervous. As is always the case when I lead a group, I want to be sure I give participants what they need, the spiritual nourishment they’re craving. Most times when I wrap up, I’m a bit depleted from putting out so much spiritual energy over the course of a few days, but this time I was energized and uplifted, riding a spiritual high that was fed by the 30+ people who engaged in the retreat so fully they left me awed and humbled and inspired.
It’s been a while since I did a Manic Monday post, so I thought I’d pop on and give you the rundown of what’s going on in my world. Actually, to be honest, I was inspired to write this post so I could post the photo of the flower bud on the left. I saw it, and it spoke to me on a very deep level, one of those visible, spiritual sparks that just made me sit in silent wonder. Whatever it takes to get me here, right?
So that beautiful blossom you see here? We all know what’s just on the other side of surrender. Blossoming, beauty, transformation. The same is true for us, if we trust the process. This week, can you loosen your grip and let go enough to begin the transformation. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Even just a small loosening will allow your petals to unfurl. Blossom today, right where you are planted.
A very brief invitation to my Seattle Advent retreat. My first time in the Pacific Northwest. I loved it, and I found a spiritual vibe everywhere — at Pike Place Market, in the Ubers I called, at the vendor where I bought local wine. It may be the land of the “nones,” but the Force is strong with this one. Loved my visit. Can’t wait to go back again someday when I have more time to island hop. Thank you to St. Monica Church on Mercer Island and to the very welcoming folks of Seattle. (You have to sit through one minute of an empty ambo while they announce me. Never fear, I do eventually show up there.)
First we’ll get to the details, then the back story. I have stepped in to lead the 26th annual Merton in the Mountains silent retreat at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, N.Y. — in the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains — Friday to Sunday, Sept. 6 to 8. There are still open spots for this weekend opportunity to step away from the busyness of everyday life and unplug, be still and just listen. As if that’s not enough, we’ll have talks, moving meditations, mindful meals, and the chance (weather permitting) to hike, kayak, or just kick back in an Adirondack chair on one of the many decks and soak in the silence and the boundless natural beauty. It’s only $130, all inclusive (program, accommodations, meals.)
A few years ago, I was asked to write an essay for the Soul Seeing column that appears regularly in the National Catholic Reporter. That essay turned into a moment for me. What started as an assignment, became a journey, as is so often the case. The essay I turned in back in 2014 was the first in which I explored in writing my lifelong habit of collecting broken sea shells and looked at it from a spiritual perspective. That original essay grew into more writings on the topic and, eventually, into a retreat day I offer: “Broken, Beautiful, and Beloved: Learning to See Ourselves through God’s Eyes.”
Now my original essay is part of this wonderful collection from Orbis Books. I am so honored to have my writing included alongside that of spiritual writers such as James Martin, Richard Rohr, Joyce Rupp, Brian Doyle, and so many others. A special word of thanks to Mike Leach, publisher emeritus of Orbis Books and creator of Soul Seeing, for asking me to write that first essay and for inviting me to be part of this book. It’s a lovely collection, something that would make the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who’s traveling the spiritual path and looking for a little nourishment along the way.
You can order Soul Seeing directly from Orbis Books or Amazon. You’ll find me on page 179 under the title “Brokenness Lets Us See Where True Beauty Lies.”
I was recently sitting in a log-cabin chapel on a beautiful lake in the lower Adirondack Mountains when the woman next to me offered a prayer intention during Mass: “For all those in the process of dying.” Although I had a dear friend who would die that very night and for whom we had been praying throughout the weekend retreat, I heard those words not only in relation to my dying friend but in relation to myself and to all those around me, because we are all in the process of dying. Read more
The past few months have been quite a spiritual roller-coaster for me due to an experience in early summer that pushed me past the breaking point. I couldn’t even bring myself to attend Sunday Mass, something completely out of character for me. My family would head off to church, and I would stay behind, feeling cut off, unable to rouse the slightest spark of spiritual connection. Read more
If you’re within driving distance of New York’s Capital Region and/or the lower Adirondacks, you are within retreat range! There are still a few more spots open for my weekend retreat, Stillpoint: Creating Calm amid Life’s Chaos, which will be held at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, N.Y., Sept. 8-10, 2017. This all-inclusive spiritual getaway is designed to help you nourish yourself — body, mind, and spirit. You can do as much or as little as you want. I’ll provide the program; Pyramid will provide the spectacular setting. (The photo on the left was taken during the same September weekend two years ago, so, if we’re in luck, you’ll see the same riot of colors along the shoreline.) Read more
I’m guessing you could use a few days of peace and quiet, maybe in a gorgeous spot, where you have nothing to do but stare out a lake and let someone else do the cooking. Sound about right? If so, mark your calendars. I’ll be leading a retreat — Stillpoint: Creating Calm amid Life’s Chaos — at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, New York, over the weekend of Sept. 8-10, 2017. Your spiritual getaway will include collage-as-prayer, journaling, silent breakfasts, meditation in motion, and prayer practices to help you discover the divine in the everyday, the miracles in the mundane. Plus, you’ll get delicious meals and free time to rest or hike or paddle a kayak across a crystal clear lake. I’ll provide the program; Pyramid will provide the spectacular setting, and you can do as much or as little as you want. The goal is to nourish yourself — body, mind, and spirit. Read more