she says, "it could use some WD4o."
She walks back the the center, and I to the UCC cemetery. Birds are few, but I stop and look to the left and up and there is the moon in the morning sky. I ask Sophia for reminders to get me through my life. To stop, to ask for stillness, to be gentle, to be aware of God's unfolding creation.
At 8 am I enter the dining hall, the silent breakfast is ending and I am pleased to see the woman mentioned above sitting down to eat. I sit down and have a conversation. We are joined by a priest from New Jersey, a Sister from NYC, who happens to be the woman who shared the bench with me; and another Sister, who says I am sweet because I had told her in passing that I had appreciated her piano playing through a door the other night.
As the non-Catholic in the group I get a lesson on what is happening in the Catholic universe and we get to know each other. They ask me how it was to be the only man in the feminine images of God group. I say, "we only met together once and I had the longest hair." I clear my dishes and walk over to Father Sneck to ask if I am Catholic enough to sign the Catholics against the war petition.
It is mass where the emotions start to fly. We leap in by singing Lover of Us All.... "with sun and moon we dance with joy...." Father Sneck leads the service and as he always does leaves most of the homily to us. Most of those who do choose to talk mention the fire alarm, the sweaty building, the 12 hours with non-flushing toilets. I say something like this:
"Part of my packing is randomly choosing 20 or so jazz CD's. Somehow I chose at least 4 versions of the standard, "What's New." What's new is Sophia. Sister Maria with much courage directed me into painful places and Sophia provided the gentleness to find healing My hope is for that gentleness to stay with me when I leave and interact with my wife, my students and the rest of creation."
The closing song is "We Are Called" We close out our time together with so much heart felt spirit I am overwhelmed by joy once again. I thank the Jesuits whose worship has helped so much on this retreat. I tell father Barron how the birds brought his message back to me last night. Goodbyes done, I discover a Men's room is now labeled Women. They are ready for us to leave.
I think of writing once more as I step outside, but I run into my bench sharing new bird watching buddy. She is telling me about her trips to Africa and I am telling her the names of the birds, and have gotten to white-breasted nuthatch when another Sister comes over and says, "Wayne, you are gentle."
I try to dismiss the compliment and say, "I have some moments...." But she cuts me off, and as she waves goodbye says, "We all have those."
In a few minutes I am driving through the gates filled with hope. Three times my hand reaches to turn the radio on, and each time I stop myself, for this drive will be in silence.