musings on our claretian retreat 2022

i’m on our annual claretian zoom-retreat. today is the last day. i had first met our retreat facilitator–dr c. vanessa white — when she was the director of the claretian volunteer program. i am blessed to call her my friend.

these are my scattered musings from this retreat.

during the first day on monday, vanessa suggested that we choose a personal symbol to help us focus and be reminded that we are on retreat. since i am staying home and challenged with various interruptions, this was a welcome and needed suggestion. i chose this as my retreat symbol:

this immaculate heart of mary image came from my mother’s “altar” of saints. although it is simple in design, it has been a perfect symbol for me this week. after all, claretians are sons of the heart of mary! mary prayers will help me focus, no?

vanessa also suggested a “news fast” during this retreat. so this week, i have not watched, read or listened to any news. being at home so much, i had fallen into the routine of having the news on t.v. for about four hours a day. additionally, i would search out and read on the internet about any issues/stories when i wanted more in depth info. this week’s news fast helped me realize that this routine was too much time on news. after today, i will choose more intentionally how to get news info and limit my time with the news.

tuesday february 2nd was world day for consecrated life. as part of our closing prayer that day, we zoom-renewed our vows to God. for me, it was a touching and emotional prayer. being a claretian has helped me navigate these past three years in seattle. mostly, now i am just my mother’s son. but my vows still define the person i strive to be.

on wednesday, vanessa invited us to look a the activities in life that give us joy. it was a good tool to remember that to be instruments of joy in the world, we have to be intentional in doing the things in our life that bring us personal joy. i had recently rediscovered a new daily rhythm of playing music– whenever i play my guitar, i am happy! so this retreat reflection was an affirmation that i was headed in a good direction with my music.

it was also implicit permission to watch some nba games after the last retreat session each day!

yesterday’s reflections challenged me to realize how undisciplined my prayer life had become. this has been my dynamic throughout life– praying well then getting off track. a retreat has always been my opportunity for a “spiritual reset” so this year is not different. mornings have always been my best time for personal prayer. today is the day to start again!

for me, the most important lessons in life must always be re-learned.

vanessa gave us a great quote from howard thurman that i had not heard before:

“God responds to the pray-er (the person who prays) not the prayer (the words).”

an example given was jesus in the garden of gethsemane who prayed to be delivered from suffering and death at calvary. but jesus also prayed for his Father’s will to be done not his own will. out of love, the Father responds to jesus as his son and not the specific request that “the cup pass”

“God responds to the pray-er not the prayer.”


i am thankful to God for this zoom-retreat. i am thankful for vanessa and her unique gifts that she generously shares with the church and the world– and this week, to us claretians missionaries!

i close with the song that vanessa sang to begin the retreat. for me, it is a powerful and heartfelt petition to the Lord. and we cannot sing it enough…

Spirit of the Living God | Spiritual songs, Hymn, Spirit

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