I am back at Bon Secours Retreat Center outside Baltimore for my Shalem training for certification as a spiritual director. I was here last year, and it was a transformative experience. Like last year, the retreat came at the most inconvenient time. This year Jo and I were moving some of our daughter’s things from Asheville to Venice, FL. (Yes, it’s a long way). So, it was a production to get me from Venice to Baltimore for a 2:30 meeting on the first day. Being a Boy Scout, I got here on time, but tired and frazzled.
After our first meeting, I was walking around the grounds remembering last year’s training. I came to a statue of the Virgin Mary and was filled with memories from a year ago. In the middle of the ten-day training, we had a day of silence and sabbath. Sometime in that day I gave myself to this statue and it’s as if I found myself in the elevator at the ground floor of my soul. For a time I was at home in the world. My concerns and egoistic thoughts vanished and I was free—fully present to what is.
So, Tuesday when I revisited Mary, I remembered some of what happened and was filled with gratitude. Being the literary nerd that I am, I recalled some likes from Wordsworth:
“There are in our existence spots of time,/ That with distinct pre-eminence retain/ A renovating virtue….”
The goodness we experience is imprinted in us. Holiness gets in our blood and stillcirculates regardless of time. It’s a well we can draw on when we remember and thus are remembered to God. In our fast paced world we tend to look forward—“what’s the next thing?” But to our detriment we forget the wellspring of the grace that has touched us and is always with us. “Do this for the remembrance of me” our Lord said to remind us to remember. Of course, his grace and mercy aren’t just in bread and wine; they are in statues in Baltimore and in our backyards. They are everywhere in all times.
I don’t know what will happen during this training. I can’t program another experience. I can give thanks for the past and as best I can be open in the moment. The rest is up to God.