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retreatwoodsI was tired last night after I drove home from co-leading an overnight retreat at our Motherhouse over two hours away. The house was silent when I arrived; my housemates were working with the cooks over in our conference hall to clean up from dinner at the workshop in progress here this weekend. Not having the energy to engage with another group at that moment, I made a sandwich and sat down to wait for the Sisters to come over to the house. It was not long before they arrived and we sat down to share our experiences of Friday evening and yesterday. No matter the group or the topic, it is always a wonder to us to experience the energy and happenings of a group that gathers for spiritual purposes. We are able to observe the deep desires and enthusiasm in the arrival, the expectation as programs begin, the gamut of responses to what is shared and the moments of insight – and sometimes confusion – as the process continues. Whether or not each person goes away changed by the information and interaction, we always try to assure that everyone leaves having experienced the love of God manifest in the gratitude of our lives for the ministry to which we are called. That gratitude is always shared in wonder when we sit, as we did last evening, recounting the day’s events.

All of this was brought to mind by the gospel for this morning (MK 6:30-34) that begins: “The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.'” Just as the apostles and Jesus only had a little time off before the crowds found them again, so we begin again this morning to serve up an experience of love to retreatants before they leave for home after lunch. My hunch is that the apostles had a conversation with Jesus much like ours, not so much what we had done with each of the groups we’ve encountered but rather what God had accomplished through us and through the shared energy of the group gathered. It is that confidence and with the support of one another that we go forward into this new day, moving ever deeper into the mystery of Love.