Saturday, January 28, 2012

Notes From Retreat

In the silence of Saturday afternoon, I am feeling drawn back to the retreat week. I want to pray over what rose into awareness.

I want to remember how I prayed. I want to recall how I was, in the presence of God. I want also to call to mind the quality of my attention. I want to bring there over here.

To begin, I want to put down some of the notes I jotted in a little fat notebook I carry around with me. I also left some marginalia on several of the essays and exercises we received from Brother Ignatius. Let me record them all in one (cyber)space, roughly in the order in which I wrote them down, with minimal editing.


Discernment guiding symbols
The gift and the word

Discernment guiding questions

What is being given
Who is giving the gift
Who is receiving what is given
What is the gift doing to being

What word am I
What word am I giving -- am I giving it well
Is it the [same as the] word I am
What word are people receiving
What is my word doing to them

What is the relationship between
The gift given and the word I am

[Guiding Scripture text: Romans 4:17]


Changes in My Life
A Reflective Exercise

[From a worksheet. Questions for reflection. The following are marginalia from the page.]

I spend more time at home -- I like it
I pray more at home -- I like this
I want to bring people to my home and feed them -- I like this a lot
I want to be "Church at home" -- I am understanding this slowly
My time is less my own -- I don't mind it
I want people to "read" me -- I wish they could
I want to be the word I say -- I am not, not yet
I want to know what word I am to others -- I do not know yet
My brothers want to know my word -- they don't, not yet
I want to "play" more -- am I? Don't know -- they want it, my brothers

I am doing less for transformation of church and society -- I wish I could [do more], but less than I want to [do more to] change my quality of interpersonal conversion; that is, changing how I live at home
God is surfacing here the most
I feel good and calm about this work
I believe it will not be without effect
The changes are coming into focus


Befriending Our Desires

[Another reflective exercise. Questions and marginalia from a worksheet.]

Am I at ease in praying about my desires? Why or why not?
Yes -- it's what I pray most about, although the desires are and have been chaotic and incoherent.

When I am still and attentive to God, what desires do I notice surfacing within myself?
I want to be attractive, but I reject [others]; I do not consciously attract [others]
What makes the lover lovely is what I'm looking for
I want what gives the beautiful person beauty
I want more to be loved and accepted than to love or accept
I want not to be respected before I am loved, and not only respected
The desires are there but not turbulent
They are muted, not vivid, not roiling
They have been calmly channeled

What is my deepest desire in my relationship with God? How am I acknowledging this desire in my daily life?
To live for God, to bear God to others
To be with others in the presence of God
I acknowledge this desire by seeking to discover the ways God is with us even in [the] ways I can't see God being there

How am I dealing with conflicting desires (those that draw me to God and those that draw me away from God) in my relationship with God?
I am suppressing them into prayer, but I am also being open about my commitments and letting others into my world and house to see my commitments
I am trying to show openly my pleasure in some others so as to project/incorporate it into the orbit of God-desire

[Do] I see growth in my desire for God?
Yes, but it is slow and steady and marked by an equilibrium without punctuation

How have I noticed the clarifying of my desires in community? How has this come about?
I desire to be church at home so I can be church in the world
I want brothers who want for me what I want for myself in God/Christ/Spirit

Am I able to speak about my deepest desire with my brothers?
I can speak about my desires. I am able. But my deepest desire? No, not honestly or candidly, not yet. I am unwilling to entrust them with these [deepest] desires. I am able, but I want to be willing.

As I clarify my own desires how have I noticed how it affects the way I see the world? The way I see human suffering? The way I see the church? My view of politics; other cultures?
I have yet to connect what I desire for myself with what I desire for others -- a chasm remains between my heart and other hearts -- by living into the heart of the world I hope our hearts may be made one


Theological Assumptions and
Practical Prerequisites

[Another worksheet with marginalia.]

Will of God = desire without condition (feeling or emotion, e.g.)
Q -- can my will truly become an unconditioned desire
Commitment = religious life, religious vows
"Does your life attract or scare"
Trust the process
Desire poured out

[Reflection questions follow. Name theological assumptions and note their origins.]

God -- ground of being, giver of being, beyond being
Church -- eschatological community of salvation, people of God in Christ
Religious life -- not a family, but a household of God, a domestic Church
Family -- to be transcended and overcome

God is worthy of praise and adoration, and creation is too by derivation
Religious life is not a family but a place to share goods in Christ
God gives me, a fire, to make/be made
God is the supernatural fire
I am striving in religious life to pour out my fire, my desire upon the world, to set world ablaze with Holy Spirit
To be moral is to offer no violence, to offer peace and reconciliation, to build up life and not to destroy it -- to reverence image of invisible God in all

Origins of theological assumptions: reason open to experience mediated by tradition ruled by Scripture


I feel the need to pause and go to the chapel. I will put down the rest of the notes this evening.

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