An Autumn Mini-Retreat with Mary
Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”The Confessions of Saint Augustine
Restless fingers fidgeting in my lap. Restless mind replaying events of the day. Restless legs kicking off the covers. Restless heart searching in the depths.
Several years ago, my daughter and I traveled to London and enjoyed the sites of this stunning city. The London Eye, the Big Ben Clock Tower (known as the Elizabeth Tower after Queen Elizabeth II), London Bridge, Trafalgar Square, finding our way around on the Tube, and tasting exquisite French croissants. Oh! How can I forget our evening at Shakespeare’s Globe! Laughter of the audience told me who understood Shakespeare’s prose. Others of us did not quite figure out the goings-on on stage. Anna Rose and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment in London. One glorious day we spent touring the countryside on a bus. Thus, we discovered the Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, England, and here my story truly begins.
Cathedrals in Europe dwarf any church I have seen in the United States. The stone structures and their ability to withstand over a thousand years of wars and weather are impressive. The history within any one of the cathedrals also inspires awe.
When my daughter and I walked into the massive space of the Canterbury Cathedral, it seemed vastly different from a Roman Catholic Church. At first glance, we saw colossal columns, ancient tombs, and a choir loft of pews facing each other. It was different but exquisite, and my lesson in ecumenism began.
Anna Rose and I walked to the back of the first floor and backtracked to descend stairs midway across the gigantic distance. Next, it seems we descended staircase after staircase, each nook, landing, and floor holding new treasures to find. The history was startling and inspiring.
We saw relics and statues preserved even during World War II bombings. We prayed for friends and family at various altars. We mingled among other pilgrims, wandering with reverence and quiet whispers.
The real treasure lay deep inside the bowels of the church….deeper down and further in. After walking the equivalent of a couple of city blocks, I suppose, we found…what I call the “Jesus Chapel.”
After admiring intricate carvings and stonework throughout the cathedral, we stumbled upon this quiet, humble room. Anna Rose and I were alone with no other visitors nearby. There in the depths, I found my heart. A simple crucifix hung in the middle of a small non-descript room. Nothing ornate. Only simplicity. Only Jesus. After all, in the deepest depths, all we need is Jesus.
I cried. Jesus is enough.
Especially in the darkest depths. Especially during these darkening, shortening days of autumn when some fear the cold of winter and others fight depression during the waning daylight.
May I repeat myself? Jesus gazes at us from deeper down and further in. Most of my daily living happens on a surface level, perhaps moving to a more intimate level as Jerome and I chat during dinner or an evening hike. Sometimes during my morning prayer, I find Jesus listening to my “next-est” level of fears and needs. How often do I peel off the layers of everyday life and let God into the depths of our hearts?
How often do I walk down all those staircases, past all the intricacies and landings and rooms, to the back corner, or through a locked door to find God’s offer of rest? So much gets in the way: family needs, car problems, old wounds, and even wardrobe malfunctions. Perhaps I even put up a wall in the recesses of my Canterbury heart and the God who loves me.
The word “Canterbury” comes from the Old English Cantware-buruh “fortified town of the Kentish people,” and the Roman name for Canterbury was Duroverno, for “walled town.” This fascinates a word nerd like me.
canterbury | Etymology, origin and meaning of the name canterbury by etymonline
Despite many inspiring and glorious moments of distraction on the way to the Jesus Chapel, my daughter and I finally found our hearts’ desire.
Quieting down the external. Finding space for the internal. This is the joy of going on a retreat. This is your place of rest.
Dunrovin offers an encounter of Jesus Christ for every person who comes. You are welcome here.
During this autumn time as the daylight grows shorter, ponder on a way you can find more space and time to more intimately meet the God who loves you.
- What type of prayer draws you in to the deep? Some ideas include reading Scripture, walking in the beauty of nature, singing the praise and worship of God, gazing on the Eucharist during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, making time to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, praying alone, or praying with others.
- Spend extra time this week in prayer, whatever amount of time you can offer. God is with you.
- Fernando Ortega’s soothing singing style will help settle whatever is restless inside of you – Give Me Jesus
Lectio Divina – Jeremiah 29:11-14
- Lectio (read): Read the Scripture slowly. Listen to the words and allow them to sink into your mind.
- Meditatio (reflection): Read through the Scripture slowly a second time. Reflect on one word or phrase that catches your heart and meditate on it with your imagination.
- Oratio (response): Read through the Scripture slowly a third time. Respond to God’s Word with your own prayer of thanksgiving, confession, praise, or simply talking to God.
- Contemplatio (rest): There is no right or wrong way to allow God’s Word to capture you; simply let it capture you.
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon Me and come and pray to Me, I will hear you. When you search for Me, you will find Me; if you seek Me with all your heart, I will let you find Me, says the Lord; and I will restore you.
Featured image artwork of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Riley Hyder. Used with permission.