Let me begin by wishing everyone a Happy Easter. In the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, may we find hope that life is stronger than death, that good is stronger than evil, that God's plan for humanity will not be subverted despite the (apparent) best efforts of sinful humanity.
Having said this, please allow me to extrovert some things.
First off, I think I am in one of the more sacred and special places on the planet. The Archabbey is a beautiful place to make a retreat. The liturgy is gorgeous, the chanting sublime, the hospitality second-to-none, and were I not here during monsoon season, I'm sure I'd be enraptured. Yet, we have been beset by storms since Friday and it's been almost totally impossible to go outside for a walk. As sort of a kinesthetic prayer, I need to be able to move about and, sadly, this has been made difficult. This is not to say that I haven't prayed (Lord knows, I'm praying with the monks all day long) but it does make for a challenge to my own personal style of praying when I'm forced to remain indoors.
Second, if the weather were not an impediment to prayer, I must say that some of the folks who have been here this week have been. There was a Holy Week retreat (concluded yesterday) that drew a real ensemble cast of characters:
- A woman who insisted on pushing around a wheelchair that had no one in it. It carried her purse, her umbrella, and maybe some other trinkets...but no person. She was perpetually out of breath and had a knack for dropping her song book at least four times during liturgy and prayer. Once, in the middle of prayer, she loudly questioned those around her about some particular aspect of the prayer and, when she was unsatisfied with the whispered answers, she tried to interrupt the presider by calling out, "Father! Hey, Father!"
- A couple who took to heart the maxim that "one who sings prays twice" without considering the fine print: If you can't carry a tune, please sing softly. I think, between the two of them, they unleashed a veritable Pandora's Box of horrific notes. I sat next to them during the Easter Vigil (3:00 am - 6:00 am) and felt envious of Jesus: he experienced the Passion on Friday, I had to wait until Sunday to enter into it fully.
- An elderly woman who sounded as though she had a defective coffee percolator lodged in her chest. It seemed at every quiet moment that there'd be a wet sputtering, rasping noise as whatever phlegm struggled to be released. I was tempted to give her a swat on the back to help dislodge whatever was there, but thought better of it: I don't want to be misconstrued as one who would assault my elders.
- And, to top off the cast of characters, a feisty old religious sister who took me for her personal servant: I fetched her water, carried her tray, and disassembled her scooter and loaded it into her car. (She was my favorite: downright hysterical)
I mention this not to be a crank but because I need to tell someone! Of all people, I've been trying to maintain some semblance of "retreat silence" so I've had no one to talk with. Cooped up in the retreat center, I've poured out my heart in front of the Blessed Sacrament but I felt like I needed to write it down, too.
All told, this has been a good retreat so far. It's nice to get away from school, to be released from hearing "Mr. Duns! Abba! Abba!" over and over again. I am grateful to have another four days of prayer and rest ahead of me before I return to Detroit to finish out the school year.
So on this Easter Monday, please be assured of my continuing prayers. Pray for me, too, that I continue to have a good retreat and that no other retreat groups arrive until after I leave!