A Life in Retreat? Yes and No….
Devotional thoughts for our days
4 Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord.
6 Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.
8 Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-8 (Phillips NT)
39 I see myself like a poor little bird, accustomed only to making short flights from tree to tree, or, at most, up to a third floor balcony… One day in its life it succeeded in reaching the roof of a modest building, that you could hardly call a skyscraper. But suddenly our little bird is snatched up by an eagle, who mistakes the bird for one of its own brood. In its powerful talons the bird is borne higher and higher, above the mountains of the earth and the snow capped peaks, above the white, blue and rose pink clouds, and higher and higher until it can look right into the sun. And then the eagle lets go of the little bird and says: Off you go. Fly! Lord, may I never flutter again close to the ground. May I always be enlightened by the rays of the divine sun—Christ—in the Eucharist. May my flight never be interrupted until I find repose in your Heart.
Far too often do I resemble St Josemaria’s little bird, content and yet bored with the simple life we struggle through. Not only do I lack the power and skill to soar above the heights, I fear to do so, for flying that high means I could crash. And if crashing close to the ground is hard, how much more devastating would it be to crash when I am spending time in the heavens?
The idea of soaring with eagles sounds nice, it sounds incredible, but I’ve been on too many retreats and had to come back to “reality” from the mountaintop experience. Even worse, I’ve seen what it can do where people only see that mountaintop experience as the only blessed thing in their lives. Where they live, remembering the high of the last retreat, and looking forward to the next one.
If only we didn’t have to come down!
If only I wasn’t so afraid of those heights.
Paul urges us to delight in God, to give to him every detail of every problem, depending upon Him to receive them as He promised when He asked us to cast all our burdens upon Him. He begs us to keep our eyes on the things that are good, that are Godly,
Does that require us to stay soaring in the heavens, only to be worthless here on earth? Do we like the monks of old or the Amish, separate ourselves from the world? How can we be in the world but not of it, as Jesus asks?
Is this command of Paul, to delight in God, to rejoice in all things possible? Or is it just an unfulfilled dream? And if it is unfulfilled, does this mean the negative impact I think it does, a life lived in disobedience and therefore condemnation?
I can’t worry about that question, nor its answer. it is beyond my role, beyond my experience. For if I worry about that, the more I will not spend my time delighting in Him, and the less likely it will be for me to run to Him for the forgiveness I so need, for the comfort and consoling that will restore to me the joy of my salvation, and the awe of being found in His presence, and loved.
For that is where the delight comes from, in realizing how incredible God’s love is, a love that desires to make itself manifest in every moment of our lives. love that would shape our lives with thoughts about what is righteous and just, what is lovely and pure, what is of God.
May our desire to dwell in His presence be satisfied, and may be not be satisfied with anything else. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 366-374). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.