Monday, August 6, 2007


I ventured out on a personal retreat for renewal today. It is the first time I have done this since moving to the Indianapolis area twenty-one months ago. I used a Catholic Retreat Center. I have discovered that Catholics understand the power of renewal through reflection. They know how to do retreat centers. They know how to create space that cultivates reflection, inward turning, and honest probing. Contrast that to Protestants who would typically have a “retreat” center full of ropes courses and a variety of other activities to keep ones mind occupied.

Catholic folk seem to understand that a mind freed from external stimuli can stay engaged enough filtering through its own issues. Frankly, I prefer the Protestant version. The more I am externally occupied, the less time I have to turn inward having to wrestle with my inner life. Even with my personal preference for outward noise I have come to appreciate the necessity of “centering down.”

I found Our Lady Fatima Retreat House. It offers “Spirit-Driven Renewal.” I took them up on their offer. What they actually provide is an environment where a person might connect with the Spirit of the Living God. They offer two things, I believe, one needs to achieve this Spirit-Driven Renewal: A place to be and they simply leave you alone.

Upon my arrival I found they had a Labyrinth. Each time I hear this term I think of mythology. What exactly in mythology I don’t know, but it simply smacks of that genre. A Labyrinth’s purpose, however, is to help a person find their way; they have only one path that starts at the outer edge, goes into the center and comes back out again. Labyrinth, I discovered in the Retreat House literature, is also a term for the part of the inner ear that regulates balance.

I determine to wander the Labyrinth. I went hoping to discover a bit of insight into my life, ministry and future. It was not an impressive looking path. I was hoping for high hedges; something that might be more maze-like. Instead, it was a simple stamp pattern on concrete. It was a path that went back and forth. It was a winding journey. It would have been very easy to walk straight to the center of the Labyrinth and my natural bent would have been to do just that. But what I was able to hear from my inner spirit told me that such a straight line would short circuit the very reason I was on the path. I also could have quickly covered the 861 feet of total distance that was compacted into a small area, but that too would have violated the integrity of the journey.

I invested time in this walk. I concentrated on paying attention to the turns in the path. I listened for sounds. I observed the small butterfly that rested on the path. A butterfly that seemed intrigued by my meanderings; at least it hung around and watched. Many thoughts, impressions, spirit promptings wedged their way into my consciousness. But if I was to summarize my discovery it would be this: Every twist and turn in our journey contributes to who we are in our core. And it is from our core that we must navigate the twists and turns of our journey. What is at our core is critical!

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