I spent the weekend of the Ignite picnic on a two-day silent retreat in the beautiful setting of Stella Maris on Howth Head looking over at Wicklow. The view, putting me in mind of Psalm 8:3 “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place”. (I laughed when Adam used the same quote in his blog!) Anyway, one could not help but be drawn to silence and wonder.
The retreat was hosted by an Indian Jesuit priest called Fr. Korko Moses who conducted the retreat in the fashion of a regular Indian Ashram. As written in his blurb: “Fr. Korko Moses has well integrated the Christian and Indian spiritual traditions through study, personal prayer, meditation and ashram life”.
The schedule for the day was a 6:30 Yoga session, followed by a 7:30 meditation session, breakfast (in silence) free ‘silent’ time, followed by more meditation, an input based on questions given by participants and so forth. All meals were taken in silence, purposely to encourage participants to be ‘mindful’ of how one eats and to reverence the food one is eating.
The reason why I went on this ‘silent’ journey was not so much to ‘seek’ the Lord but more because I had been challenging myself regarding my ‘devotional’ practices – was I responding out of ‘duty’ or was I was responding as the ‘beloved’ to her ‘Lover’? My intention therefore was simply to surrender, to open my soul so wide as to allow myself to be loved so that I too could respond in love both in my private prayer-life and to those around me.
On the first of my two days, I enjoyed the silence immensely and loved spending time with the Lord. I found the silence at mealtimes difficult – the food seemed less flavoursome without the ‘seasoning’ of good conversation.
Returning to the Ashram for day-2 of the retreat, I settled into my meditation. On this occasion, I didn’t find peace but tiredness and crankiness of the middle-aged variety. This reminded me of an observation an American writer by the name of Ronald Rolheiser wrote when talking about the difference between the first and second part of life: “You spend the first half of life avoiding the 7th commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and the second half of life avoiding the 6th commandment “Thou shalt not kill”! I digress!
During the afternoon session with Fr. Korko, I found very challenging because other scriptures were being used and felt this huge ‘need’ to ‘defend’ Jesus and Christian scripture. But why should I have been so defensive when the language was similar to the following: “I have joined my heart to Thee: all that exists art Thou. You only have I found, for you are all that exists. O Lord Beloved of my heart! Thou art the Home of All. Where indeed is the heart in which Thou dost not dwell?”
The point is that as I had learnt from previous reading that the Lord is not just ‘with’ the poor, He’s IN the poor. So too the Lord is IN all peoples etc. I began to feel my interior Self whisper – “soften your grip – listen – left go your opinion” and so I did.
In that afternoon, I was learning, what is better expressed in the words of St. Paul paraphrased in a hymn: “One bread one body, one Lord of all – one cup of blessing which we bless. And we though many, throughout the world, we are one body in this one Lord”.
During the closing mass, using an Indian rite – really interesting – we each had to give an input on different cultures, nature, animals and the five elements – the outcome was so beautiful – I was ‘wooed’ to worship the Lord because of the beautiful inter-connectedness of ALL life. With regards to other cultures, religions – I was reminded of the words of a lovely hymn from my Charismatic days where it said: “I can see in you, the glory of my King, and I love you with the love of the Lord”.
At the end of my retreat, I was humbled by the ‘call’ to reverence the Lord in all creation, in all cultures and in all people and I was acutely aware that my ‘catholic’ background was now indeed ‘Catholic’ as in ‘universal’ – Namaste!