I hope that your Labor Day weekend and holiday allows you some time to relax with family and friends and that it offers an opportunity to do all the pre-school things you need to get done.
At this time of significant transition for most of us I find myself grateful for the gifts of the summer and, at the same time, quite eager to engage in the deeper level of activity that begins after this holiday.
Looking back, I am thankful for a restful vacation and, especially, for the gift of my annual retreat which I completed at the end of August.
You may remember that, just as I have for the past 10 or 11 years, I made my annual retreat at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Mass. I have always enjoyed Eastern Point for its beautiful setting, its atmosphere of serenity and silence, and its excellent staff. I enjoyed it no less this year.
This year’s retreat held a pleasant surprise for me. In all of my earlier retreats, I have had a Jesuit priest as my director (some prefer the term “guide” or “companion” to director). They were different, one from the other, but they all were wonderful directors for me. I would gladly have any one of them again.
The surprise was that my director this year was Sister Nancy Sheridan, SASV. There have been women on the teams every year I have been at Eastern Point but I had never been assigned to one. I began to wonder if there was some unwritten policy that required that bishops on retreat should have Jesuit directors!
As it turned out, I consider it a great grace that I had Sister Nancy. She is very well-trained, rich in experience, a person of great faith and committed to the spiritual life — her own and the spiritual life of those whom she assists on retreat. She is a great listener, a wise counselor. And, she has a refined sense of when to speak and when to be silent; of when to ask a question and when to make a suggestion.
Sister Nancy was a blessing to me, not only as a kind guide on retreat, but also as the reminder she was to me of the abundant and diverse gifts God lavishes on his holy people. Our work together through those days reinforced my convictions that when we share our gifts with one another, we learn important things about our neighbors, ourself and about our God who gives life to us all and who is the source of all of our gifts.
I would like to carry that disposition into post-Labor Day life and activities. That frame of mind opens one to discovery, to surprise and to new possibilities because it searches for God and what God might want to teach us in all circumstances of life — no matter how difficult those circumstances may be. How is God present here? What is the new life this moment may hold for us? What do I need to take up (or leave behind?) to live a freer life? How might I best share my gifts with others? Am I open to perceive the gifts God offers to me through those with whom I share my life?
I will be praying for you and myself that we can keep such questions alive in our hearts in the weeks to come. I do believe that they open us to insight and possibilities that we might otherwise miss.
Peace to all.