Springingtiger's Blog


Retreating into Love

In early April I went to the Friary of St.Francis at Alnmouth for a few days, three in silence, to seek guidance. I had turned sixty and become unemployed so it seemed like an appropriate moment to spend some time in reflection.

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My retreat has been worthwhile. I had a long interview with Brother Reginald before I began my retreat. I explained that I had turned sixty years old and, being no longer in employment, had time on my hands, gaps in my life, with no idea of with what to full them or the direction in which I wished to go. Various things came up in the conversation I talked about myself and he shared some of his experience. I told him I had not intended to go to Mass that day, but had I not done do I would have missed singing “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” and I explained it’s significance to me (a blog in itself); I was reasonably convinced I was in the right place. I didn’t know how God would guide me, our even if he would, but if I was going to hear him anywhere I reckoned this was the place.

By the time we finished talking, the library was no longer being used by a visiting “day group” so in I went. The room in which I was staying was named for the Capuchin San Lorenzo Da Brindisi so it occurred to me to start my quest for guidance with his sermons, but it was not to be, I could find none. However during our conversation I had mentioned to Brother Reginald that I had been introduced to the Society of Saint Francis by Fr. Raymond Lloyd before he became the friar Brother Ramon SSF; I went looking for the novel he wrote about Jacopone Da Todi, but I couldn’t find it so I came away with his “Soul Friends – A Journey with Thomas Merton”.

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I had tried to read Merton as a student, but unlike Teresa of Avila, he never really grabbed me. With Br. Ramon to guide me I found the journey quite exciting and one after another the questions playing on my mind, as well as several I had deferred for later consideration, were addressed, answered or laid to rest. In one of my breaks from reading the book in the Sacrament chapel I wrote a poem about silence and sensory processing, it is not good and I doubt ever any amount of editing will greatly improve it, but a couple of stanzas ended with, “All shall be well”. Later as read further, still in the Sacrament chapel, I came upon Merton’s reaction to Julian of Norwich and found myself so bathed and full of love that I could not stop myself from weeping and laughing. I don’t know where I am going out how I am going to get there, but Br. Reginald advised me to let go and trust and now that seems so obvious.

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Later, tears dry, supper eaten, in my rightful mind I looked back on those moments in the chapel and realised that, although the experience now exists only in my memories, the confidence that all shall be well, that all manner of things shall be well, lives on and I expect it will continue to do so.

Over night there came to me a terrible realisation of how unlovable I am. I was confronted with all that is disgusting in my attitudes; smugness, self-satisfaction, vanity, selfishness, not only an inability to forgive, but to rejoice in the misfortunes of others. All in all the vision I had of myself was quite abhorrent, but then I felt Siva, God, speak to my inner self and say that he loves me anyway, regardless of all the unworthiness I might feel. It became clear that I may judge myself, other people may judge me, but God doesn’t judge me he just loves me utterly, absolutely, without reservation. The night before it had felt obvious that I should let go and trust that everything would be well, but now it is inconceivable that I should do anything else. I cannot pretend that I did not know all this, but sometimes, being human, l forget; it is good to be reminded of what love really means. “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”.

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