A day’s retreat

I continued to walk even after the Camino Ignaciano of the previous year. Walking is a good exercise. More than this, I find God, and feel blessed to be able to walk regularly in paths surrounded by God’s creation: the sky and grass; the foliage of trees and bush, branches and flowers; and the birdsongs. They have a soothing, calming, peaceful effect on me. 

On Tuesday I met with some of my camino friends for a day and a half of retreat and recollection. It began with a walk from Monfort Centre at 7 am. The morning was remarkably cool and the sun shone friendly upon the landscape. We walked in the Chestnut Drive Park. It was a lovely park but somehow, I was bothered. 

My mind was too occupied with analysis. Instead of immersing myself in the whole experience, noticing what I am feeling, sensing, touching, smelling, hearing, I was analyzing what I saw, thinking, “I must come here again”, “Never been here before”, “Where is this path connected to?” “Where are we now?” I was thinking and not feeling, gathering information and not savoring the experience.  

After the hike, we had a period of silence and reflection until 4.30pm when we met together for a planned experience. I reflected on how the hike as well as the lunch which I gulped down, and realized I was like an observing from outside the experience looking in. I was not present. I did not savor the full experiences of the hike and the lunch. I was lost in thought and analysis. I have noticed that this has been my functional mode of living out each day, this detachment. I had been an observer of life not a full participant. It is like being half-dead. Not fully alive to life’s fullness. 

I journaled this observation and prayed the Lord will grant that I will be able to grow in awareness, and be more fully present to life’s daily experiences. 

At 4pm we met and did a decoupage of a glass bottle. We were asked to express our dreams, desires, feelings or prayer through the craft of decoupage. I chose to express my prayer of the day. I looked for colors and patterns in the napkins on the table and expressed my prayer through the decorated bottle. I observed that I was fully absorbed in the craft and lost track of time and surroundings. Right until it was all done and I continued to talk to the Lord while my prayer, my finished “work of art” stood proudly on the desk.

I totally enjoyed this experience of my hands and creative instinct taking charge instead of logical analysis, my right brain dominating my left brain. I felt like signing up for a systematic decoupage course. It will do me lots of good. 

We had a fun evening celebration with snacks of cheeses, biscuit thins, nuts, fruitcake, and wine or Coke. We took turns around the table to share what the artwork expressed. Listening to everyone express their desires, reflections and prayers was a blessed thing. May God grant all their prayers.

The next morning the hike began at 7 am again. I am beginning to appreciate the early morning hike. The day is so fresh and the air crisp as the sun gently and gradually peeps out of the horizon. I was more intentional in being present and I truly was. Beautiful. This mini-retreat is proving to be meaningful and fruitful.

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