I know I'm the last person online to supply the link, but the Wernersville Jesuit Center made the New York Times Travel Section last Thursday. For my friends who aren't Catholic, or Christian, or "anything in particular," as the author describes herself, the piece may alleviate some of the sense of mystery that surrounds a silent retreat.
My favorite part of the article is the portion in which the writer describes the manner in which her spiritual director for her five-day sojourn addresses her quandry, using words of the life of the spirit rather than those of modern-day psychology, suggesting that she feels "forsaken," rather than that she has "abandonment issues."
We westerners are all accustomed to the language of the therapeutic community, and I doubt that any reputable spiritual director would resist a directee's engagement in therapy. But many of our challenges are more spiritual than psychological in origin, especially where great trauma is concerned. Perhaps, now that I think of it, also especially where the utterly trivial is concerned. There are few people to whom we can turn in order to say, "God has completely forsaken me," and be assured of a hearing, whether the source of our conviction is the violent death of a child or a series of endless days of seeming meaninglessness at work or home. And even fewer who, instead of offering concrete solutions or emphatic exhortations, will send us off with instructions and time to sit with God in the silence.
It is, quite simply, the thing to which I most look forward when it comes to finishing my cancer treatment: my return to Wernersville. The sooner, the better.
(And like my friend Michelle, I picked up a new word from the article: adytum. At least, it was new to me. So I'm using the connected photo ~ the Wernersville Chapel, 2010.)