Friday, May 23, 2014

On the verge of summer

My friend Fran at There Will Be Bread had a lot (or should that be a Lot?) on her mind after a whirlwind week; Crash (now in the midst of a summer that will take him from intensive Latin, to work with a church historian, to the Naval History and Heritage Command) is writing about writing again after a whirlwind of a sophomore year.  Do you just show up again without explanation?

I turned my grades in yesterday, and while there are still some loose ends to tie up as department chair, I suspect it might be summer on my calendar.

Ignatius talks about stopping a few paces before your prayer space to pray for the grace you desire in that time of prayer, and to once again commend yourself into God's hands.  In that vein I headed off Tuesday night through the rush hour traffic to spend the night at the old Jesuit Novitiate in Wernersville, and to see my spiritual director — to stop for this moment before my summer begins and ask for the graces I might need and to remind myself just how I live and move and have my being.

And like Fran, here are my scattered thoughts, more than a bit windblown...

The weather was, as the local news station kept repeating on the drive up, "unsettled," but I threw my umbrella in the back and walked twice in gentle rains. After dinner, I walked through the hedgerows and back up toward the cemetery.  The newly cleaned gravestones glowed blue-white in the dusk, bright ovals hovering over the high grass.  I walked through, stopping to pray for a couple of men I knew, and for Joseph Grady, SJ, a scholastic, because my late neighbor Marie Malloy prayed for him. Then I leaned against the wall down by the oldest grave in the cemetery, which belongs to Anthony Ryan, nSJ a novice who died 10 weeks after he entered in 1931, and prayed.  Despite the unsettled weather, it was a very settling spot to pray.

One retreat was wrapping up, another just beginning, so everyone was having a talking dinner.  Arriving near the end, I found an empty table, filled my plate and sat down with a book and crept into the silence held between its covers.  At the end of the meal, a Jesuit friend (and my long-time confessor) came over, offering tea and gentle conversation, both of which I gladly accepted. It was a grace-filled entry into the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation, a celebration that was warm, joyful, grounded in my current challenges, bracing and above all, a deep experience of mercy.  Easter all over again.


  1. You description put me right in the scene - only here at Manresa Jesuit Renewal Centre where my spiritual roots go deep. Today in Toronto we are celebrating the ordination of one Jesuit to the priesthood and three to the diaconate. I am sad that I have a conflict with an RCIA workshop but my prayers will be with them. Enjoy the start to your summer.

    1. Lynda, I think you could replay this scene any number of retreat houses...My prayers are with the young men as well, as I know one of them being ordained to the diaconate!

    2. I knew that you know Joseph because you comment on his blog as well. It is a very small world!

  2. Mmmmmm. Blessed be.