Retreats and Renewals

Retreats – spiritual, business or leisure – are necessary and beneficial.  I received this healing opportunity for three days. It was incredibly refreshing, renewing, and rejuvenating. The coastal town of Blanchisseuse, Trinidad, was the therapeutic hospital for my renewal. Three days of sleep, old talk, board games, eating, reading, writing, reflecting, with a mix of alcoholic drinks. 

I need, however, to whine. With its caressing and soothing waves, the beach and the state authorities were like warring parents.  One parent inviting me to enjoy its therapeutic medicine, but the other saying, “You dare go into the water and you will be punished.” Sad to say, I wasn’t a rebellious child. 

Nevertheless, I immensely revelled in the three days, except for the final day. The house where I stayed sits on a cliff overlooking a stage which accommodates several actors – the undulating waves of the Caribbean Sea, the warm tropical wind, the high-flying frigate birds, the low- flying pelicans periodically piercing the surface of the water to catch fish, the fishing boats, and the occasional appearance of the Tobago ferry passing inconspicuously across the stage. On the final day, I sat on the veranda inhaling the drama of the day. Indeed, I am feeling relaxed, refreshed, yet sad and anxious. Reality strikes.  It’s time to return to participate in another drama – the drama of work whose stage brings mental and emotional stress. 

Sitting still, my eyes are like a fishing rod catching a big fish – a concrete sign whispering to me the significance of my Great Return. At the edge of the cliff on the property, there’s a dugout area in the form of cross. Its vertical part is about 24 feet and the horizontal portion is about six feet. One can literally walk into it with its deepest section about waist height, and accommodating seats. Enjoying the last drama of nature, this cross invades my vision and invites me to include it in my final farewell ritual.

The Cross: It refuses to be silent. It reminds me of the significance of my mission. Taking up the Cross. The responsibility of building the Kingdom of God. The reason for the Church’s existence. 

The three days of “hospitalization” is temporary. It is renewal, not the total reality of the mission. I am enlightened. I am reminded of the words of Joan Chittister, . . . the empty vessel must be filled. Otherwise, you have nothing to give to anyone else. 

If I filled my vessel at the hospital of Blanchisseuse, then I must return to quench the thirst of others.   

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