I recently had the privilege of being part of the directors’ team for a Busy Persons’ Retreat at one of the universities in Missouri. These retreats always amaze me. Students commit to pray 30 minutes each of the five days and to meet a spiritual director (us) for 30 minutes each day, while keeping up their usual routine of going to class, studying, jobs, and whatever else they need to do. Masses together and shared meals are optional, but many participate also in these.
My retreatants and I used the symbol of a woven basket, one that I received many years ago while visiting our sisters in Botswana. It’s a small thing of beauty, made up of different colors and fibers, much like our lives. I proposed that it is only when we “take the lid off” that we can see the space within, the emptiness ready to be filled with God’s good gifts.
We reflected, prayed over, and shared about Jesus’ words “Come away to a deserted place” (Mark 6), “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10), “You are worried and anxious about many things, only one thing matters” (Luke 10), and “You are the salt of the earth” (Matt 5). The poem “Tourist or Pilgrim” by Macrina Wiedekehr, OSB also inspired us.
God’s grace is abundant in retreats like this. Students and directors benefit mutually by the sharing that takes place. Most of all, the retreat is a time of integrating one’s faith with everyday life. Like the little basket, it’s a weaving together of the fibers of our own lives with the God who dwells right there within us.