Post Vacation Thoughts

I have returned from my vacation to Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Traveling 1500 miles magically transported me to my past again but there were new thoughts and experiences this time. My sister recently moved to a small city about fifteen miles from our hometown and I had never been to her new abode. I kept wondering why we rarely ventured there when we were kids. Northfield, Minnesota has two colleges (Carleton and St. Olaf), beautifully restored Victorian houses, and a quaint main street where the bank that was famously robbed by the Jesse James gang still stands. As I walked the wetlands behind her home each day, observing mud ducks, blue herons, and orioles, I prayed over the land of my birth that is no longer my home. I’ve read that our first years are the most formative so I bowed down to the sacred rich soil in which I was planted. Why I left is not mysterious to me anymore and yet, I hold the past and present with gentle hands. Pieces of my soul remain loyal to both.

by DC

A Trip to Ancestral Lands

Today officially starts my two week summer vacation.  On Thursday, I will travel to Minnesota, land of my childhood, to visit family. While it doesn’t sound as exciting as going to unknown destinations like I did last summer, it is nonetheless a sacred pilgrimage for me. Midwestern roots run deep inside my soul and have grown into the immense vines of faith stretching over so many years of spiritual growth. My sister, brother, and I will drive by our childhood homes, the lake cabins where we spent our summers, the Catholic church, elementary and high schools that we all attended. We will visit the cemetery graves of our parents and many relatives dating back to the early 1800’s.  The reminiscing will be full of laughter, lingering questions, and wonder, the stuff of all trips to ancestral lands. I will be recording, as I always do, the abundant messages the Holy One has for me, embedded in the beauty of every field of corn, smell of black earth, thunderstorm, and dazzling sun on teal water. Surprises await and I am ready.

by DC

Traveling Love

Dreams of trips to faraway places have dominated my imagination since I was just a little girl. I used to go to the public library in our home town in Minnesota and read all about the Casbah of Morocco, the gondolas of Venice, and the azure blue colors of the Greek isles. Miraculously, I was able to actually travel to all of these places by the time I was twenty-one! Since then, I’ve tried to travel someplace every summer, even if it couldn’t be to such exotic places. Travel makes time stand still for a while and life feels more leisurely than the fast-pace of ordinary work days at home. The moment I step outside my front door, I enter into the adventure of each step of the journey. I pray my way through each hour, looking at every person and experience as holding a message from God. I scribble down random notes to be pondered later and find myself smiling, full of childlike joy, at this yearly opportunity to stretch beyond the limits of my “one wild and precious life.”

by DC

Hello July!

The month of June has now passed through the sands of time and summer, in its fullness, has made its glorious entrance. July in America looms ahead of us like a giant Norman Rockwell painting. Most of us think of fireworks, vacations and road trips. Throughout this month, we  invite you to continue our meditation on holy leisure and the spiritual freedom  given to anyone who wants it. There are no prison bars within the soul and nothing can contain the wildness of God. All I am required to do is open my hands to the spacious silence and receive the divine spark burning invisibly deep and clean within the unlocked and open door of the soul. Our writers this month will give us examples of this truth as they share  some of the vacations and trips that have illuminated their lives.  May the holy leisure of this month make us embrace and appreciate each moment of life!

by DC

Deep Time

This past Sunday was Father’s Day. For many of us dads the day is difficult to get through. We strive to be the perfect father. Most of us fail. We never live up to the responsibilities. So when a day comes along to honor us, we feel unworthy. We enjoy Mother’s Day because we can take charge. In Richard Rohr’s book, “Falling Upward,” he discusses a concept he calls “deep time.” There is no definition of this term but it seems to carry a message us Dads should consider. As fathers, we have only one responsibility and that’s to love our family. This is a responsibility we can actually accomplish. If we can find our way into a deep time with the ones entrusted to us, we can find peace. When we find peace, we become worthy. When men are in the arena of work, we often approach it with a competitive, winner-take-all attitude. In family life, it’s different because a Father must give his family deep time, not prime time.

by Diego

Go On A Retreat

I recently spent three days at the Sacred Heart Retreat House in Alhambra leading a retreat for Directors of Faith Formation. As soon as I entered the grounds, I felt my soul sigh with relief for this opportunity to experience holy leisure. Trust me, I have done literally hundreds of  retreats in the past thirty years in ministry. There is simply nothing compared to leaving daily routines behind and simply “wasting time” with God. Suddenly, I can shut off my electronic devices without guilt and breathe easy again. I can give myself the gift of listening deeply to the inner Spirit who surrounds me with love. I know there are many people out there who think this sounds great but never open themselves to the experience. Others say they want to do it but are afraid of what might happen. In the words of Jesus, “Do not be afraid.” Better than an expensive vacation, the inner journey with the Holy One as your guide will be a decision you will never regret.

by DC

The Spirit of Pentecost

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, also called ” the birthday of the Church.”  In one of the most radical stories in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon a group of frightened and lost followers with such ferocity that they could see, feel and hear what was heretofore invisible. To say they were transformed is perhaps an understatement. All was turned upside down and inside out. And right in the dramatic midst of the tongues of fire and howling wind  was the first apostle, the one who knew the Holy Spirit intimately. Icons of Pentecost always show Mary, calm and serene,  in the midst of the amazed apostles. It is as if she is telling them not to worry~-this is going to be the “new normal.”  Although none of them knew what was ahead, they knew life would never be the same.  May a new spirit of Pentecost come upon each of us today and may we be open to whatever gifts are poured upon us.

by DC

Holy Leisure

When the Easter season ends this Sunday with the celebration of Pentecost, summer will be spread out before us like a beach towel in the sand. Just thinking about slowing down and relaxing for a while attracts like a magnet and yet, many of us don’t really know how. Our writers would like to help by starting your days for the coming months with reflections on what we are calling “holy leisure.” This is a term that was actually written into the Rule of St. Benedict long ago for monastic life and reiterated recently by Pope Francis: “Together with a culture of work, there must be a culture of leisure as gratification. To put it another way: people who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play a sport.” Any activity that stops us in our tracks and gives us the opportunity to gaze a while can also be included. True soul food for body, mind, and spirit, holy leisure nourishes the deepest part of us and gives meaning to everything we do.

by DC