Tag Archives: retreat

Constant One – Video Prayer

I’m spending a few days of private retreat at the ocean.   Sometimes you just need to step away and renew your spirit, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to do so these days.

This morning as I was watching the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean (a favorite past time of my mother who I was communing with this morning through memory and action), I reflected on the amazing love of our creator. Sometimes it is easier to recognize God’s loving presence in the midst of it all than at other times, but looking back, God is there, one with us through it all. Later, as I was taking a long walk on the boardwalk while the sun continued to rise, the song “Constant One” by Steffany Gretzinger came into my heart and mind, step by step, which led me to make this video prayer, pairing her music and words with my photos and video of the sunrise this morning.

Constant One – Lyrics

In the moment I am hiding
Your love, it seeks me out
You hold me and You know me
From the inside out
From the inside out

Constant One
Endless is Your love
Like a river can’t be stopped
You’re faithful
Constant One
Who is like You, God?
Your mercy’s like the sun
Always rising
Over us

It’s amazing
How You take me just for who I am
In the valleys and in the mountains
I’m always in Your hands
I’m always in Your hands

Constant One
Endless is Your love
Like a river can’t be stopped
You’re faithful
Constant One
Who is like You, God?
Your mercy’s like the sun
Always rising Over us

There is no place that I could run
That You won’t chase me down
You won’t chase me down
There is no place that I could hide
That I will not be found
I will not be found

Constant One
Endless is Your love
Like a river can’t be stopped
You’re faithful
Constant One
Who is like You, God?
Your mercy’s like the sun
Always rising
Over us

(Bethel Music, Steffany Gretzinger, The Unfolding album, 2014)

Retreat Notes – Love > Fear (reprised)

A while back I wrote about how Love > Fear. This equation was in my heart and mind during some of my prayer time this week on retreat. It was more of a movement within than something I can capture with words. Hence, this video prayer reflection set to “No Fear in Love” by Steffany Gretzinger. This video prayer is inspired by Ezekiel 36:26, and starring some objects I found on the beach.

 

Retreat Notes – Texture

I am back from retreat, slowly re-entering my day to day life, such as it is, where really every day is full of its own adventures, flavors and textures.

Speaking of textures, one invitation I experienced this week was to pay attention to the textures. Textures in the pictures I was taking of the beautiful landscape around the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Oregon.

 

Textures in my life,  relationships, community. Textures in my deepening experiences of God’s love. Textures in my response to my ongoing call.

Some hard. Some soft.
Prickly or smooth.
Moisture on rock–sitting patiently
impervious, or maybe
not.
Some will sink into the deep.
It is in the textures of life
where we touch, feel, and know
We are together,
incarnating in our world
the love that has been given
Gift for all.

 

Retreat Videos – Good to Me

This is the last video I made on retreat, and it sums up the week for me. In the words of Audrey Assad:

Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
All my life
I will trust in Your promise
Because You are good to me, good to me

Indeed. Thank you God for the many graces of my life, for the opportunities to grow and be transformed, for the chance to share my gifts, for the gift of life and love, and, and, and …

God is indeed good to me and you and all of creation.

Laudato Si!

Retreat Videos – Letting Go

The spooky internet algorithms that led me to the music of Audrey Assad also led me to discover Steffany Gretzinger, a singer with a non-denominational Christian music project.  She’s got a very unique voice, sort of reminiscent to me of a Christian Bjork meets Beth Orton. In any case, I found this song very moving and helpful for inviting God into the messier spaces of life. It’s called Letting Go. It speaks to me of the invitation to be vulnerable before God, to trust and most of all, to let God be God.

You’ve brought me to the end of myself
And this has been the longest road
Just when my hallelujah was tired
You gave me a new song

I’m letting go
I’m letting go
I’m letting go
Falling into you

I confess I still get scared sometimes
But perfect love comes rushing in
And all the lies that screamed inside go silent
The moment you begin

You remind me of things forgotten
You unwind me until I’m totally undone
And with Your arms around me
Fear was no match for Your love
Now You’ve won me

Retreat Videos – I Shall Not Want

Here’s another video I made on retreat pairing my photos and videos of God’s creation with Audrey Assad’s beautiful prayerful music. Enough said. I’ll leave the rest to her words, inspired of course by Scripture and tradition.

From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

No, I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

Retreat Videos – You Speak

Sometimes on retreat I read. This year, I barely cracked open a page. Instead I read the pages before me of God’s creation and took oodles of photographs.

I was also recently introduced to some new to me music, thanks to the wonders of internet algorithms which accurately (and a bit spookily) suggested music I might like.  That is how I discovered the Catholic singer-song writer Audrey Assad. I spent a lot of time during retreat listening to her independent release, Fortunate Fall. It’s available on Amazon Prime, although I highly suggest downloading your own copy.

I made a few videos matching my photos with her words and music.  I’ve shared one of them above, set to “You Speak” by Audrey Assad.

You liberate me from my own noise and my own chaos

From the chains of a lesser law you set me free.

In the silence of the heart, you speak.

And it is there that I will know you and you’ll know me.

You satisfy me till I am quiet an confident in the work of the Spirit I cannot see.

In the silence of the heart, you speak.

And it is there that I will know you God.

In the silence of my heart, you speak.

Her words so beautifully capture the desire to listen to our loving creator God and trust in the movement of the Spirit.  I found myself singing her words as I watched the sun rise and the birds fly and the waves crash.

Enjoy some of your own quiet time with the beauty of God’s creation speaking in your own heart.

Magnificent book of God’s creation

I am back from my annual retreat, renewed and refreshed after days of blessings with the Holy One.  I never made a silent retreat until I was in formation with my religious community, and now I truly cannot imagine what my life would be like without this regular gift of time and space and quiet to just be with my loving God.

Every retreat is different, with its own graces and challenges too. One grace of this year was letting this time spend itself, allowing myself to be open to God’s presence all around me in every moment.  I can’t really explain the movement of God in my life these days, other than to say that God is very good.

In his encyclical Laudato Si’, taken from the opening line of the Canticle of the Sun, Pope Francis invites us to spend time with God’s magnificent book of creation:

“.. Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20).” (Laudato Si, no. 12).

If I had to sum up this past week, it would be accepting invitation upon invitation to get a glimpse of God’s beauty and goodness.  And that, my friends, is gift upon gift upon gift!  Here’s just a sampling.

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On Retreat

Time away you need ... hmmm. Retreat you must go on.
Time away you need … hmmm. Retreat you must go on.

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.

Pure gift.

Write Your Story: A Video Prayer Reflection

So I had lots of plans for today. Lots and lots of plans to do lots of important things. But first I went for a long walk and had a little conversation with God, as I’m apt to do on long walks.  That’s where the poem I posted earlier today came from. When I returned home and turned on my computer to start working on Chapter 6 of my thesis, instead I felt an overwhelming urge to make a video prayer reflection set to “Write Your Story” by Francesca Battistelli.

A little bit of background. I’d never heard this song or the artist (it’s not one of my regular musical genres) until this summer when I was planning a retreat for Catholic Sisters in their 40s with some friends from Giving Voice. My friend Rejane suggested this song for one of our prayer experiences during the retreat, where we were also going to invite folks to write a six word memoir (which is an excellent exercise by the way–try it!).

On the first listen, I wasn’t super excited about the song. But it got stuck in my head. And my heart. And so I listened to it … again, and again, and again. As it happens, about this time I was invited by my community to discern something pretty huge that seemed beyond anything I could imagine for me right now, but which at the same time seemed like maybe what God was in fact inviting me to next. At this point, it would probably help if you heard the song I’ve been praying with since July:

Listening to the song, I can’t help but be reminded of Jeremiah 29: 11: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” (Of course, just a couple of chapters earlier Jeremiah realized he had been “duped”!)

Discernment is about listening to your heart. But discernment is also about listening to what God has written on your heart, and opening yourself up to what has not yet been written. It’s all well and good writing those words here, or even discerning something huge. Then comes actually stepping into the new chapter, taking a deep breath and learning to trust.

Apparently that was what I needed to do today, take a deep breath and sink into God’s love, because all day turned out to be an unplanned prayer day. Or, at least unplanned by me. The mischievous Holy Spirit may have had other plans. I trust that what needs to get done, my many plans for important things, will get done.

I mentioned the exercise we did on retreat where we invited folks to write their memoir in six words. Here’s mine:  Nonstop brain. Opened Heart. Seeking Peace.