Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I look morning to night

view from my office, San Alfonso Retreat House,
September 2014
“I look; morning to night I am never done with looking. 
                        Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open. And thinking: maybe something will come, some            shining coil of wind,            or a few leaves from any old tree—                        they are all in this too.”
 ~Mary Oliver, 

I had a lovely week of quiet, contemplation and prayer on my recent private retreat. I read poetry. I read Scripture. And I dove quite naturally into the short but powerful gem of a book, "Re-Entry Into Faith" by Catherine Doherty. I packed my journal, but did a lot less writing than I thought I might do. 

I was doubly blessed by this particular retreat, thanks to the beauty and wonderful hospitality of San Alfonso Retreat House and its people—and by the fact that the retreat center is located right on the beach!

I will no doubt reference this experience again in future blogs. But for now, I’d like to share with you a visual story of this marvelous and renewing week.

my bedroom, and the view from my window!

From sunrise over the water to sunset over San Alfonso Retreat Center, the lovely grounds encouraged my spirit to be quiet... and to remember how to listen!

I even had my patron, Our Lady of Lourdes, near me... 

The evangelizing spirit of St. Alphonsus Liguori and the Redemptorist's devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (her image was everywhere!) became an unexpected gift. My grandmother Josefa had a special devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, so every time I walked by her, I was reminded of the communion of saints (like my grandmother!) walking with and praying for me every day.

Did you know St. Alphonsus Liguori is patron of people suffering arthritis?

I was really taken by this beautiful image of Mary and Jesus by local artist B. Hanlon, with Jesus pointing toward the ocean.

I knew that combining time away at a retreat center with my love for the ocean would be a life-giving recipe for my tired spirit... but as is often true of God's Providence, I could not have anticipated the generous and abundant graces that were poured on me daily.  

And it's not just because I ate three delicious hot meals every day that I did not have to prepare, or clean! Although I confess, I did love getting spoiled in that way.

I walked the beach to my heart's content... for hours at a time, and I sat and stared at the water. Watching the waves come and go is a very contemplative prayer for me.

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