Notes from Manresa, prt. 1

This past weekend I went on a 3 day prayer retreat at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Bloomfield Hills.

[Short pause for those who are already prepared to dismiss everything I have to say because of my association with the Jesuits – and thereby with mysticism.  You are free to go.  Please wait in the bar.]

For those still reading, the next few entries on this blog will be from the notes I took on this retreat.  During this retreat I was not introduced to a new way of thinking about God.  That has been happening for quite a while.  What happened, though, was that it was confirmed that this is the path for me — the way to the union with God I have sought after all my life.

I am simply recording the content of my journals as I wrote it at Manresa.  It is my experience.  I am not preaching or lecturing anyone, nor am I suggesting that your journey will look the same as mine.  It is important that you understand that these posts are not presented as the final word on anything.  They represent a work deeply in progress.  They show a small part of the messy process of growth taking place in the life of one person — me.  There of course is also growth taking place here that is not shown, and there are, I’m sure, places where what looks like growth is not nearly as big a step forward as it might appear.  That is the nature of spirit.  It is one thing for us to talk about growth, another to philosophize about how growth happens, but quite another to witness a little bit of how it happens.  If these posts can help you or encourage you on your journey, then they have done all I expect of them and more.

I do not know how many posts it will take for me to get everything in, but I’m going to keep them fairly brief, and take as long as I need to take.  Here goes:

12/11/09
I arrived on the grounds at 11:40 a.m.  Just enough time to find my room and dump off my stuff before heading to the dining room for lunch.  Silence is the rule here, and though it was at first awkward to sit across the table from someone and eat in silence, I found myself quickly growing used to it and then nearly thankful for it.  After all, what would I normally dread at an event of this type?  The endless trivial chatter and small talk.  The three of us, then, ate our lunch in silence.  When I finished I stood and mouthed, “Peace to you,” as if I had previously been taught it.

After lunch I met with Father Ryan, who is good at his job, quickly honing in on keywords and working his way into my head, albeit gently.  He gave me some guidelines to follow and some scripture to read, along w/ one book, Brennan Manning’s The Furious Longing of God.  He suggested I do no other reading, preemptively countermanding what would have been my tendency to simply read all weekend and avoid prayer altogether.  Is that what I’m doing now as I write?

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