Retreat Clippings

Simple Scenes During A Winter Retreat
in Loyola House, Guelph, Ontario


                                                                                     Loyola House from across the bridge

(click on small pictures to enlarge in a separate window)

Some speed walk or ski for exercise and enjoyment,
some stop and savour the beauty of nature in silence, 
some are simply compelled to sigh with the sentiment of G. M. Hopkins:
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” 


The Humble Hut


God, my heart has no lofty ambitions,
 my eyes do not look too high,
 I am not concerned with great affairs
 or marvels beyond my scope.
 Enough for me to keep my soul tranquil and quiet
 like a child in its mother’s arms,
 as content as a child that has been weaned ...
                                                      -- psalm 131


 Light and Shadow 

How amazing is Your artistic touch!
The barn is the same, yet
Your lighting has created such a difference in mood.
Each is beautiful in its own way.

How ingenuous is Your way of tutoring us!
We are the same, yet
in desolation and in consolation
You move our spirit and total being.
Each experience is precious in its own way.


The Hay Stack


The hay stack stays still in the field,
changing its look with every watch of the day.

In silence and in solitude,
You infuse us with Your presence.



 
 In the dining room there hangs a beautiful photograph of a forest covered with Triliums. The dining room lights cast an interesting reflection on its surface. What is more real, the image of the trees and flowers, or that of the reflection of the lights?

In the process of discernment of the Spirits, I too, am often puzzled by what is really God’s will. Which is the finger of God, which is the tail of the Serpent? Or are they all just tails of the Serpent?



 
A View Obstructed
          One morning I looked outside but could not see. The rain from the evening before had turned into a layer of ice. On closer look it gave an interesting wavy pattern of objects beyond.

           Though sometimes I cannot find You, the process of searching for you is in itself sweet.

 “Obstacles are blessings, blessings are obstacles.”
                                                                          -- John Govan S.J.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it
Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and will never leave me to face my perils alone.
                                                             -- Thomas Merton


How wonderful is the pattern formed by the water and the wind!

"Art demands an artist. Random chance has never explained a waltz or a symphony, a physical equation or an epic poem. It cannot. ... "

                   -- from The Evidential Power of Beauty by Thomas Dubay S.M.

 
Even the ice crystals that are formed in the cold dark night and last only till mid morning reflect the beauty of the Sun. 
        Cut evenly and ready to be burned,
the pieces of wood are showing 
how beautiful they have been touched 
by the Creator over the years 
.
Are we not more precious than these?

The Beauty Of Creation Bears Witness To God

Question the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the sea,
the beauty of the wide air around you, the beauty of the sky;
question the order of the stars, the sun whose brightness lights the day,
the moon whose splendour softens the gloom of night;
question the living creatures that move in the waters,
that roam upon the earth, the fly through the air;
the spirit that lies hidden, the matter that is manifest;
The visible things that are ruled, the invisible that rule them;
question all these.
They will answer you:
“Behold and see, we are beautiful.”
Their beauty is their confession of God.
Who made these beautiful changing things,
if not one who is beautiful and changeth not?
                                                     -- St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430)



 
Eucharist was celebrated daily at 11.30 am during the retreat. People appeared quietly a short while before and waited in silence. The sun would cast a long shadow on the carpet carrying the hues of the windows.

       We too, reflect the Glory of God, carrying all our experience.
       Unlike the windows, each of us is uniquely and exquisitely made.


Far too often the Cross is presented for our adoration, not so much as a sublime end to be attained by our transcending ourselves, but as a symbol of sadness, of limitation and repression.
-- from The Divine Milieu by Teilhard de Chardin S. J.
Farmers plough the field in the Fall, fertilize and till the soil in the Spring. 
Beneath the thick snow, God heals while the land is taking its rest.

 If God does not build the house,
 in vain the masons toil;
 if God does not guard the city,
 in vain the sentries watch.

In vain you get up earlier,
and put off going to bed,
sweating to make a living, since
God provides for those beloved in their slumber.
                                                                -- psalm 127

 The cemeteries are dear to my heart. I walk and talk with those gone before.
I am mindful to look at the ups and downs of this life with a different light. There is more to death and dying than apparently to the eye.


“In the darkness of the tomb we are reborn in the Spirit.” -- John Govan S.J.


Finding God in everything is both a gift and a discipline to be cultivated.
The temptation to stay with the finger that points to God
rather than following its direction is a constant challenge.

-   --


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