A few weeks ago, I happened to stop by the retreat center where I lead my retreats. I had wanted to quickly run in to pick up one of their brochures, and when I got into the building, standing there was a person who I made several retreats with. I hadn’t seen her in about five years, which, sadly, was the last time I made my own eight day silent retreat. She asked me if I was joining them this year, and unfortunately, I had to say no. This darn doctorate! It doesn’t leave me much time to do anything.
My friend asked me if I had seen Stephen, the person who had directed me on four Ignatian retreats. Almost as soon as I said no, I saw him down the hall, heading into a conference room. After I wished my friend well, I headed own the hall to find my former director. I hadn’t seen him since my last retreat, but he recognized me right away. We went deep during my annual retreats with him, and with his guidance, I grew to really love Ignatian spirituality.
On the last morning of my fourth retreat, I told Stephen I needed to get out. I had walked all the trails of the center, and I was bored. He encouraged me to visit Patapsco State Park, just about a mile or so away. Within ten minutes I was driving down the road. Within twenty minutes, I was already on a hiking trail. It was a beautiful summer day, and I was feeling great. I mean really great. I think I was in probably the best shape of my life, and I felt charged with the grandeur of God. My retreat had gone well, and I had made the decision to apply for a doctoral program, one which would help me formulate a plan to bring Ignatian spirituality to people dealing with chronic illness.
OK, if you were wondering why this blog post was entitled “The Charge,” here it is. Thanks for being patient! As I started heading back to the car, there was a pretty substantial hill on the right side of the trail. As I walked along, I kept looking at the very top, and then, totally out of character for me, I left the trail and literally charged that hill until I reached the top. I still recall the exhilaration, while at the same time asking myself, “where on earth did that come from?” I was hardly winded, and didn’t even break a sweat. Even a year before that charge, I doubted I would have ever made the attempt. That day will forever be etched in my memory. “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” would be an appropriate Scripture passage to correspond with how I was feeling.
Unfortunately, I now find myself needing to get back into the shape I was in. Life has a way of getting in the way, doesn’t it? Old habits have a way of sneaking back into your life, especially the unhealthy ones. So, it’s time to begin again. Have you heard, “New Every Morning” by Audrey Assad? From the first time I heard it, it continues to encourage me with the thought of God’s constant presence in our lives, and every day can be a fresh start, no matter where we have been.
Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Ignatius. Since Sundays take precedence, we won’t hear about him at church. Happy Feast Day nonetheless!
Oh, by the way, I couldn’t find an image which tied to my experience at Patapsco, so this one from pixabay, certainly much more visually grand, conveys my message.