The summer months are a good time for rest, relaxation, and renewal. Growing up on the East Coast, my family always spent time each summer at the beach. Our preferred beach in question (Ocean City, Maryland) was somewhat busy and offered many opportunities for fun, from skeeball to movies to miniature golf. Given that I have a late July birthday, I spent many birthdays at the beach.
In addition to the regular summer beach fun, I also learned the value and beauty of the contemplative opportunities the ocean provides from my mother. While we kids were out and about doing who knows what, my mother was generally settled in on the balcony. Sometimes she’d be reading a book, but most often she would just sit there, gaze out at the ocean, and bask in the freedom to simply be.
As I’ve gotten older, and especially since I’ve entered religious life, the contemplative opportunities of the ocean have become a greater draw for me.
This afternoon I will be heading to the ocean for just such a purpose. You see, it is time for my annual retreat. In our CSJP Constitutions we say:
We nurture our life of prayer
by reflective reading, particularly Scripture,
by periods of solitude and silence,
and by an annual retreat. (Constitution 30).
Retreat is a special time to reconnect with my loving God. No email or Facebook. No meetings or to-do lists. IT is simply a time to pray and reflect on God’s daily invitation to seek justice, love tenderly, and walk in the way of peace.
As it happens, I will also be on retreat on Monday when I turn 43 years old. I look forward to waking up early to watch the sun rise on this next year of life.