It may have been some other old friends that resulted in my weight gain... banana cream pie, black raspberry ice cream, sticky buns, tiramisu ...
I do lots of art when retreating and though I tend to give a few things away, most always comes home and sits doing whatever a pile of art does that comes home from a retreat center. As I unpacked the prismacolor pencils from my suitcase I heard, "don't take any art work home with you." The voice didn't tell me what to do with the art work.
I made cards. On each I wrote four things:
- the date
- PEACE BE WITH YOU
- and a name from the list of retreaters.
A seminary student from Pittsburgh was on his way out but wanted to thank me. He would add my wife and me to the prayer list at the seminary. He had remembered a prayer I had put out concerning Mosaic Woman on the day we entered the retreat house.
Now I was amazed for sure. I fell into silence and the connection came. I had been guided to reflect upon Jesus handing me a loaf of bread and sending me out to feed the five thousand. "You are a disciple of Christ after all," said the Jesuit, who was guiding me.
I took that bread and I went to family and friends. I imagined a young woman holding a flood damaged violin at the U of Iowa's music dept, I went to China to feed the mourning parents, then down to those we hold captive in Cuba, and I even gave myself a piece to chew on along the way. Could my art work be that bread?
At the final mass those of us who stayed the distance are given a chance to share a thought. I share mine, some of which I wrote above. A half hour later I am sitting, looking out at the nearly empty parking lot. Stories that came to me after the mass were filling my heart and mind about how my cards had entered the lives of those who had entered into silence. Did I do the right thing by handing out those cards? Will I ever do such a thing again?
All week I had watched a woman in mourning. Her pain was immense. I would close my eyes and ask God to be with her, to bring her comfort. As we shared during that final mass, she told us her story, and the room felt her grief. Out of character, I approached her after the mass had ended. She told me that the card had arrived on the one day she had not found any consolation. She hugged me. Then she amazed me. "I did not have the energy to say prayers for many at the retreat, but I did pray for you and your wife."
Normally I feel connected to those who enter silence with me on these 8 day retreats. This time something bigger happened. Somehow given pencils, color, and paper I had fed some people. I am grateful and in awe of what can happen.
and glad that Michelle Shocked singing HOLY SPIRIT by Victoria Williams just kept coming into my head as I walked in silence. Peace to all those good folk who prayed for me, and thank you for accepting my prayers, my bread, and my hope for peace.