As I write this, I’m preparing for my annual 8-day retreat, which we as members of Holy Cross are expected to take each year. It is something that I so look forward to, as it gives me a chance to slow down, to silence the phone, to only answer essential emails (just once a day!), and to simply be in God’s presence. A retreat provides an opportunity to be renewed, to be reminded of what is most important and to count one’s blessings. I always emerge energized and ready for the next leg of the journey.
A retreat is also a reminder of the need to find room for solitude in daily life and not just once a year. I just read an article that discussed how modern life is saturated with constant noise. People basically run away from themselves through constant distraction—courtesy of cell phones, social media and internet streaming—and aren’t even aware of their own thoughts. The author recommended getting out in nature, finding time each day to be still and even learning how to meditate in order to find one’s self. He noted that we are increasingly becoming divorced from any kind of interior life, which means that the level of anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness are increasing in our society.
All of us need daily breaks from the noise of our devices to simply be still and aware of what is around us. Just a few minutes of prayer or spiritual reading can do wonders for our spirits. And we can make little mini-retreats—such as a trip to the coast, a bike ride, a walk outside or reading an uplifting book, that can renew us interiorly and ground us more in our awareness of God.
I know that I’m sometimes feel trapped by email and social media and have to catch myself when my first urge is to always see what’s come in on my iPhone. So I’m going to try and unplug this week of retreat. I’m going to take along the Parish Directory and pray for all of you. And I’m going to give thanks to God for the year that has been at Holy Redeemer Parish and School. I feel so richly blessed by serving as your Pastor. I thank you for all the love, kindness and understanding that you have given me as I have settled in here. God has touched me through all of you in countless ways. I will especially pray that God’s peace and joy fill your hearts, too.
Yours in Christ,