February 4th, 2018

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Towards a Spirituality of Joy….

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

Friday night through early afternoon today was what is becoming my personal tradition: the Men’s Retreat at Franciscan Retreat & Spirituality Center Prior Lake MN. 17 men attended. Most of us were strangers to each other.

There are lots of varieties of retreats and many retreat centers. I’d highly recommend taking a look at the Franciscans in Prior Lake and their program.

The painting of a playful St. Francis at the lectern in the Chapel said it all about this years retreat theme:

(click to enlarge)

St. Francis of Assisi

The 2018 theme at Prior Lake: “Towards a Spirituality of Joy: Love More, Laugh More, Be Not Afraid.”

The painting and the theme said it all about the Retreat. No, nothing wild here! A bunch of older men, likely mostly Catholic, pretty ordinary kinds of folks who’d you’d see here and there, all with their own stories. The talks encouraged us towards the positives which surround us, sometimes unnoticed.

This particular retreat consisted of several “conference” presentations; plenty of open time for participants, a good mix of individual time; conversation at meals; an opportunity for meeting with a spiritual advisor…What I find best at these gatherings is blessed release from television, newspapers, radio, even telephone (doubtless this goes on, but not encouraged.) The Retreat, expertly led was a time for reflection, reading, several religious services. Gentle.

Pope Francis got special billing. At the end of the first conference we each received a pocket card. Just a simple idea, but something not likely to be discarded.

In his powerful April 26, 2017 talk, Pope Francis set a tone: The Pope’s Ted-Talk is worth 15 minutes of your time. (Scroll down on the same page for more resources.)

Saturday evening we saw a marvelous film that I highly recommend, “I’ll Push You”, the story about the friendship of two young men, one terminally ill who wanted to do the famous Camino de Santiago walk in Spain.

His life-long friend said, “I’ll Push You”, and that is the very powerful story of the 90 minute film.

My choice for reading this time was Paul Rogat Loeb’s 1999 book. “Soul of a Citizen“. It is about making a difference. That the book is now 18 years old made no difference at all. We all can make a difference. One of Loeb’s chapters was headed by this quote, from Dorothy Day: “People say, what is the sense of our small effort. They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time.”

One of those small bricks was laid by my friend, Vince, many years ago at this same Retreat House. In my first trips there I noticed a Peace Pole on the grounds that was in pretty rough shape – it was wood, and had been there for a long time. Last year I mentioned this to the director of the Center. This year I slogged through deep snow down to see its status.

It had been repaired, though some work remains to be done.

Someone with a vision had caused the Peace Pole to be there; someone noticed it years later…and mentioned a need for repair; someone, likely a volunteer repaired it (there seems to be more that needs to be done, but it’s well along….) That is how the business of building a better world works. What we treasure mostly comes in small and unexpected increments. It is the bricks that build the building that is the home that we all live in on planet earth.

Peace Pole Franciscan Retreat Prior Lake MN

In peace.