I am deciding which path to take back to the retreat center when I hear a gaggle of teens. I pause baffled by their presence and then decide I do not want to pass them and I do not want them to pass me. Seeing a stone wall that looks inviting I sit with my back to a cemetery. The teens pass, one sees me and now it is their turn to be baffled by the man with a pony tail sitting on a rock wall. They move on but soon stop by a pond. I decide to go the other way.
I have walked by this cemetery so many times, but unlike the UCC cemetery that is at the top of the hill behind the retreat center, I have never entered it. Now I do.
The dates at first shock me, but it makes sense with the reality I face here at Wernersville. There are less and less retired Jesuits eating next to us these days. 28 marked graves from 2002 till the present. Three new graves without markers.
Whenever I get here, I am told that the retired Jesuits pray for us. We who have come to retreat from everyday life. To be silent. To find God in our stilled beings. I realize that there are 28 men buried here, many or all may have prayed for me. It is time to give thanks.
Natus, Ingressus, Orbit. Three dates below their names tell their story. RIP is the hope that ends it. I am caught by seeing July 30th. A special day for mosaic woman and I. The day that separates our birthday. Three graves in a row are of Jesuits who have the same middle date on their stones. They joined the Jesuits together and now rest in peace side by side.
I move on.
In my room, on my bed, I listen to jazz as the sun sets behind a tree that has been pruned. I see myself in that tree. I am reaching for God as a plant reaches for light. But I allow things to get in the way and a branch gets caught off. Another grows.
What keeps me from feeling the joy of the resurrected Christ? fears, doubts, humanist education, stoic families...
The spiritual exercises are peaking and I am to see my life as a gift from God. A busy God full of creative juices. When light reflects off of me and that creation sees me. Do they see a creature of God? How representative am I? It depends on the moment which I am seen.
At times I find myself wishing that Jesus would show up and heal all of us. But that is not the way to travel. The way is to believe that through love and compassion we can heal those in need.
It is good to be prayed for by Jesuits, and anyone one else who has hopes of seeing me shine in light. It grows my desire to help those who too struggle with being pruned here and there.