Retreat at Pacem
The following are excerpts from my journal entries written while I
was at Pacem in Terrace, a wonderful retreat center in
Minnesota. I took this retreat in early February. When you take a
retreat at Pacem, you get a little one-room cabin in the woods. You
spend your time praying, reading, writing and sleeping. With the
exception of weekday dinners you do not spend time talking
with other people. It is amazingly peaceful.
February 1, 2002
Tonight I sit in my little hermitage at Pacem in Terrace. I'm at the
St. Mary Magdalene hermitage. I am enjoying the quiet. My
thoughts coming up here were somewhat scattered. Earlier I had fears
about the silence, fears about boredom, and fears that I would feel
afraid! Now the Spirit of Peace is filling the room. I feel
scattered, but not distraught. I need so much just to experience
My thoughts turn to Dear Denise who is very likely experiencing no
silence right now. Bless her, Lord! Bless my entire little family.
Looking for an anchor for this time, I opened my Bible to
Psalm 30. Verse 2 reads ``Oh Lord my God, I cried to Thee for
help and Thou hast healed me.'' That is my anchor tonight.
February 2, 2002
What a joyous, calming time this has been! The Lord is marvelous and
gracious to me. I feel so much at peace.
It has been a time of soothing. Last night I slept almost 13 hours! I didn't feel exhausted when I went to bed around 9:00 PM. But I woke up, realized the sun was up, and rested a while more. When I finally got up, it was almost 10:00 AM!
The simple ritual of making my meals has given me great pleasure. Arranging my bread, fruit and cheese while brewing a cup of tea was, again, soothing and peaceful.
When I cracked the window for fresh air I was delighted to discover that falling snow makes noise!
I am struck at how much we must all miss in the constant noise that surrounds us. Last night, well after dark, I had been looking out the window. It was inky blackness. There were a couple of stars, but almost nothing else ware really intelligible. Then I turned out the lights. It was amazing to see how well lit and clear it was outside! What had been an uninviting gloom became a forest underneath a blanket of stars.
I must cut down on the noise and chatter in my life! How much is the Lord trying to say that I never hear?
During my walk I was asking Jesus to calm my spirit. I want to know if where I am is where He wants me (especially regarding job, use of money, etc.). If it is not, then where should I go? My concern still centers on money. We have so much while others have so little. While praying, several thoughts came to me:
- Jesus desires all to be saved, and has made it possible for all (from the morning's office of readings).
- Jesus chose for me to be born at this time, in this society, in this family.
- He is with me, loves me, does not want me to live in servile fear.
It was a calling again back to prayer. Jesus wants to speak with me, communicate His love to me, each day. When I am listening and loving He can direct me in these other areas.
Sertillanges' book has addressed itself to the act of writing. He emphasizes the importance of it, and how one must create in order to continue to grow.
My first reaction was discouragement. I started to cast about, thinking about things I could write. Then, came anxiety about my schedule. How can I write and do all of the other things I'm suppoes to do? I fell pulled in 20 direction in life, and I never seem to walk any of the paths well. It seems I should take a look at my roles in life and the major responsibilities in each. Then, purpose to focus on particular areas and make progress in them.
But first, I must return to focus on the Lord. Desire to live well is, I pray, a gift of grace. Anxiety and panic in the face of my many responsibilities and obligations is not.