The Only Constant is Change
The Only Constant is Change

The Only Constant is Change

a My Dunrovin Story by Jim Franzen

Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher, said “The only thing that is constant is change.” My life experience has confirmed that. But I don’t like change. I prefer the comfort of familiarity. I think most of us do. When things do change, we can find some relief in nostalgia – a yearning for the return of the past. The word’s origin is from the Greek: nostos – a return home. But we come to accept change, if only begrudgingly, because we know we can’t stop it. We are along for the ride.

I first came to Dunrovin in 1982 when I led a weekend retreat for our parish youth group.

And I haven’t stopped coming back.

Since that time, I’ve led roughly 200 weekend youth retreats, served several terms on the Dunrovin Board of Directors, made some personal retreats and currently serve as an occasional guest host providing hospitality for weekend groups. Heraclitus would not be surprised that I have seen some changes at the retreat center over the past 42 years: 4 different retreat center directors – including the first lay director, changes in the board of directors, many cooks, housekeepers and maintenance staff. Facility updates such as a new fireplace, roof, septic system, elevator, air conditioning and unfortunately the loss of the swimming pool. There have been changes to the landscape – mostly by mother nature. Each time I come out, I notice changes, be they ever so slight. New bedspreads, seasonal decorations on the fireplace mantle and dining room tables, a new sign, something different on the menu. Signs of change, growth, life.

Jim teaching outdoors with a group of high school students

But what is important to me at Dunrovin are the things that don’t change. The spirit of stillness and quiet, the sense of the divine, being immersed in the Creator’s handiwork declaring God’s glory in the sights, sounds and smell of nature. Sitting in the chapel and hearing and feeling the spirit of prayer and worship still echoing from decades of past youth retreats. Standing behind the lectern in the conference room and still seeing the young eyes and ears attentive to the message. Hearing the music and singing. Revisiting places on the grounds where retreatants walked and sat, praying, reflecting, and reading Scripture during quiet times.

These are events of the past, yet they feel strangely present.

It’s beyond simple nostalgia. It’s the nexus between the physical and metaphysical, between time and eternity.

We are mutable. We change. We are subject to the effects of time. We eventually break down; we lose people and things that are important to us. There’s a sense that it shouldn’t be this way.  The Creator, however, is immutable. God never changes. God dwells outside of time.

  • Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
  • The grass withers, the flower wilts, but the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).
  • In God there is no alteration or shadow caused by change (James 1:17).

Change at Dunrovin has been constant. I don’t always like change. But I accept it, understanding that it is temporal. What ultimately matters is what doesn’t change at Dunrovin: the sense of the eternal. It is where I like to be.

Jim Franzen is the founder of the Getaway Youth Retreats, held at Dunrovin from 1990 to 2020. After a long career in law enforcement, Jim spends some of his retirement working as a weekend guest host for Dunrovin, serving generously. Guests love Jim’s sense of humor and constant presence of watchful care.