Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Retreat for Me

Last week,I attended a retreat at the Jesuit Retreat Center at Los Altos, Ca.
It has been a long time since I made a preached retreat. Actually, now that I think about it,I have never made a preached retreat. I have only experienced retreats that I have led or made retreats that were private. This was a retreat on Discernment led by Julio Giulietti, a Jesuit priest and president of Wheeling University in West Virginia. He had a very gentle,compassionate presence and spoke with ease,humor and no notes! What impressed me most of all, was his way of saying things that were familiar which by grace, I received more deeply than ever before. He very gently shared, for instance, that 'God made the world and loves the world', in such a way that I felt enormous compassion for all of us who struggle to walk the path...all of us,saints and sinners alike. I had a sense of being together with everyone in creation in a large pool and all imbued with a desire to love but some of us lost. I experienced a depth of sadness that I had not felt before,for the oppressed and the discarded people in the world,especially the women and I wept buckets of tears.In those tears,I discovered ways I am complicit with oppression and ways I have unconsciously, bought into not being good enough, because I am a woman. I wept even more! With all these tears,you are probably wondering how I feel about my retreat? Well, honestly,it was a great blessing for me...not an easy blessing but  truly, a blessed moment. I realized that my ministry over these last 30 some odd years has been all about freeing myself and the women who came my way so that we can experience the joy that God intends for us. This retreat was another grace that awakened me to the next step of self acceptance and self-celebration as one made in the image and likeness of a Mother God who is crazy about me...and you! Thanks,Julio...I hope our paths cross often!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Learning in the Prison

Last night Dave and I were once again at the prison teaching our class, 'Spirituality for Everyday Life'. Often when I arrive at the prison I am tired and sometimes even wish I could just stay home and relax. But the amazing thing is that I never leave the prison without feeling energized and happier than when I arrived. What is happening to make this possible? I believe it is the genuine gratitude of the men who really like this class but even more, it is in the gift of sitting with them for about two hours in prayer. Sometimes when we say the closing prayer, and everyone is free  to leave, the Spirit of God is so present that we all sit there silently,basking in the love. The men share their blessings and challenges of the week and last night  Christopher said that his big challenge is  to refrain from complaining. How anyone could come to this while in prison is beyond me yet Christopher is accomplishing it. I wondered if I could do half as much in my blessedly free and bountiful life on 'the streets'?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kindness brings a smile

There is so much on the news that is frightening and disheartening that I am paying more attention than usual to the ordinary kindness that I find along the way. This morning, I had two wonderful moments of kindness.I am exploring the San Francisco muni system these days and today I got reading a wonderful article in America Magazine by John Cavidini on " Evil: the Good Corrupted". I was so captivated by the article that I missed my stop. I was fascinated by the people who came to assist me in finding my way, some of whom actually walked me to the appropriate station to get the proper train and waved good by to me.I could only smile -my heart was full of gratitude.Then on my return I found myself between two elderly ladies who were quite taken by my I phone as I typed an email. We began to chat. One of the ladies, was about 5 feet tall and dressed beautifully in red. She was on her way to meet her friend at Neiman Marcus for lunch. She never takes the muni she said but this time her husband was busy with the plumber and so here she was. Not sure where to get off the train,I began to help her and was overheard by those near-by. They took over as her stop approached and I saw them as they escorted her towards the correct escalator. She and I waved good by and we both had our smiles. The other woman knew her way around the system but appreiated our conversation and although she boarded the train with a scowl, she left with a grin on her face. Spring is in the air...even the flowers are smiling! 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The book has an exciting path

Today, I have been talking to Nansea Arquette at Dawn's Light in Sonora, Ca. Dawn's light is one of very few organizations in California, devoted to helping people of all ages grieve the loss of a loved one. It is also one of the organizations that I have chosen to  receive part of the book's proceeds. I am going to give a talk at Dawn's Light  on March 28th on "Writing as a Path of Healing".There will also be a book signing. I am looking forward to being there with the folks who come to listen and share their journey's through life's hurts. I am also in the thick of plans to be on the East Coast in June for book signings, a tv show, talks etc. It is quite something to follow this book around and meet so many interesting and excited people. Of course, I do not hear too much from the folks who do not like the book. I have twice heard that I use the word God too much. I suppose I could suggest to those folks that they substitute the word love because to me they are the same....both hard to define,what we are made to be one with and oh so difficult to find fault with...etc.!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lent, A Time of Growing

My husband and I went to Mass this morning. It was so peaceful and as always challenging. The teachings of Jesus are always challenging if I am willing to spend a moment really listening to them, which I did today.On Monday's we teach a class called "Spirituality for Everyday Life" and morning Mass is a way of beginning our reflection for the class. There are somewhere between 12 and 25 inmates depending on lock-downs.These are men who are hungering for God and a new way of being in the world. We never know if we help them to make significant changes but we find our work in the prison to be a blessing for us. There were two things that I found challenging in today's gospel ( Matthew 's gospel on the sheep and the goats). The first were the use of the words eternal  punishment. My husband suggested that the word eternal could be the 'eternal now'. I know when I feel encased in darkness that the feeling is sometimes one of being eternal...as though it will never end. I like the idea of using eternal that way. I experience hell when I feel separated from God or love and so too, I experience heaven when I am connected and in love! The other challenging thought was when I heard that we are blessed by God when we choose to love and serve as God invites.I heard something new here! I believe we are all chosen to love and serve but when I close my eyes the presence of love or the call to love, I do not accept the blessings offered. Also, when I deny my sinfulness, I am not open to receiving the graces which flow. Forgiveness is always offered but I must ask for that gift.We will bring some of these musings to the men in prison tonight along with a guided meditation to help them experience God's love for them and their love for God...and all God's creation!