At the Jesuit University at which I teach as an adjunct, the students are offered an opportunity at the end of winter break to make a weeklong silent retreat at the nearby Jesuit Retreat House. A week of 24/7 silence, broken only by the daily liturgies and daily reflective, one-on-one meetings with spiritual directors. During the fall semester, the students are expected to attend a few meetings and complete some reading in preparation for the undertaking ahead of them. That sort of a week is a challenge for the most experienced of adults. For an 18-year-old?!
Some years ago, I was speaking with a young woman about her retreat experience, and asked her how she had done with the required preparation.
"I didn't get to any of it," she laughed.
"And how did your retreat director respond?" I wondered.
"Father G was my director," she responded.
Ah. Mine, too, once a week, as I was making the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises that year. I didn't mention that to her, but I did ask if she'd told him the truth.
"Yep," she said, "and he told me not to worry about it. He said that my whole life up to that point has been a preparation for the retreat."
I've had formal training and lots of continuing education as a spiritual director. But I learned the most about it from HG, my own first director, and a lot of what I learned can be found in that one sentence. Our whole lives are the subject of our prayer, however it is that we find ourselves praying. Our whole lives are fodder for growth in our relationship with God, no matter how casually or ineptly we approach it.
Now . . . if I could just remember that for myself.