Daily posts in week two, Bless, link to a primary life orientation of blessing, grace, and faith in our inherent goodness.
You will have an opportunity to ponder and savor your foundations and identify the areas in your life which affirm you and others—and where you hold disbelief and fear. Please seek, listen, engage, and flow this week with receptivity and probing curiosity to whatever time brings. Daily themes will embrace Openness, Fear, Trust, Grace, Interiority, and Creativity.
Retreats call us out of the ordinary chronos time of everyday into the experience of kairos, or Divine time. On a retreat we may encounter our own curiosity, courage, resistance, and unexpected surrender and bliss. We enter into deeper communion with God, ourselves, and the communities we engage and inhabit. When we return home from a retreat, we discover more about who we are called to be in relationship with partners, children, friends, family, coworkers, the stranger and the unknown. This daily life retreat is intended to be a pause or deliberate simple oasis to allow you to connect with your essence and the Spirit that animates all of life. Whether you read one reflection, or several, please be willing to trust the Holy Spirit. Give the deepest part of you that is in communion with God permission to transform and shift your life.
In my book, Your Spiritual Garden, Tending to the Presence of God, I invited readers to create a covenant. Perhaps you too might desire to create a personal covenant for the remainder of these six weeks of Savor Lent, Savor Life.
Creating a Covenant
They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and with all their soul. — 2 Chr 15:12
Creating a covenant will help you define some of the spiritual practices that will allow you focus and experience the theme of this retreat in your everyday life. For your purposes, a covenant is an unconditional agreement that you will design according to what will best guide you. What you are committing yourself to is not intended to be a test or a set of hurdles to accomplish, but rather a well thought out guide to offer a supportive structure for you. It is not meant to be a burden. Your covenant is about placing your daily life, your work or studies, and your intentions in the presence of a God who loves you without limits.
Take time to reflect on the things that you believe will assist you during this time period, and then write your unique covenant to shape your retreat experience. To aid in your process, some suggestions follow that you may choose to incorporate. Many of these elements will be interwoven into daily reflections and meditations offering you the opportunity to put your desires into practice. Please read through these elements, reflect upon what you would like to make of this retreat experience, and create your personal covenant. Please enter into these six weeks with a vision, purpose and desire. The promise you make within yourself will assist you!
Choose an amount of time to spend in God’s presence each day that invites you to stretch and be intentional, yet is reasonable and attainable. Every day of the retreat includes a simple meditation, so you may choose to simply set aside time for the daily reflections provided.
Play and Leisure
Choose something special, perhaps unusual for you, that will enliven your retreat mode, nourish your experience, and open a deeper space for God. Maybe it will be a favorite hobby, a long quiet walk at lunch, a hot bath, an unexpected nap, playing a musical instrument, hiking, writing, cooking—or not!—a date with friends, a spontaneous trip for ice cream where you mindfully enjoy your treat, or a visit to a park, garden or arboretum. Whatever you choose, make it meaningful to you, something you will savor, and that will allow you to be recreated in the Holy One.
We live in our bodies. Too often we experience disconnection from the very gift that allows us to experience the world around us and express who we are. Decide what could be life-giving and energizing for you. Perhaps you desire a short simple walk or brief stretch each day. Maybe manual labor or dance and movement is what delights you. Is there a favorite sport or activity that your body longs to experience?
Fasting is intentionally refraining from something in order to open up space for God to transform us. Choose what you would like to fast from every day. Consider the patterns that keep you from deep relationship with God and those around you, and creatively choose your fast that will enable you more time and energy to savor life. It may be from a habit, your hectic pace, social media, or perhaps harsh language or self-criticism. And, it may change week to week!
Agree to seek out reconciliation in a way which will open you up and help free you from anything which may be blocking your experience of discovering Christ within yourself or in others. Plan to do this in a meaningful way. For Catholics, it could mean celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Or, it could mean communicating with someone that has caused you harm, or that you have harmed in some way. Be open to your specific life and what is invited within you.
Outreach to others with your intentional presence is a powerful gift of yourself to human beings and God’s love in the world. Think of a way you can be in relationship and serve others during this retreat. Perhaps it is undivided, deliberate attention to a spouse, child, sibling, friend, roommate or parent. Maybe you would like to volunteer at a local service agency, offer yourself to be in direct contact with a person or persons who are poor or marginalized, or simply walk in nature while picking up refuse. How can you open yourself to serve another?
Eucharist is a foundation of Christianity and the Catholic faith tradition. Choose when you will participate in Mass beyond your usual Sunday attendance that will renew and uphold your sense of sacred, and bring you into deeper relationship with community. If participating in a faith community is not part of your life right now, determine if a meal with close friends to break bread together would be life-giving, and a time of deep communion and connection.
Decide if spiritual companioning is appropriate for you. If needed, locate a spiritual director or choose a trusted friend you will spend time with soul-friending. Determine how many times you and your spiritual companion would like to meet throughout the retreat. Traditionally spiritual guidance occurs every four to six weeks. For your retreat purposes, you may choose to meet with someone more often: possibly at the beginning, midway, and at the end. Or, be open to discerning what is most uplifting for you!
Any tool or spiritual practice you think would enrich your retreat experience. Be willing to determine the need to shift, let-go, or add to your original intentions. Be open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and cultivate a willingness to change as needed. Be flexible. A covenant is a support for you.
Today I will savor in my heart ...I am love and the Beloved. God is with me. Now.
I am here, God,
Come, take me
Bless me with your majestic grace
Break me of my ego and deadly capacity to sin
Give me as a gift to your broken and brilliant world
Show me how to willingly receive
Accompany me when I respond
And guide me to savor life.
“While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him. When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” – Matthew 17:5-7 (Cycle A)
Tip: Each daily reflection for this every day life retreat is a new post in the “Home” tab. If you want to see all posts, please select the category, “Savor Lent, Savor Life 2013″ from the list to your right. If you would like to receive the daily posts in your email inbox, you can subscribe to this blog by clicking “Follow New Fields” blog, also to the right. Thanks, and do let me know what would be meaningful and helpful to you! Cheers!