This past Monday I returned from a week long retreat in Ohio. It was a week without phone calls, mail, or Internet access. The timing was so that I was able to attend my niece Sharon's graduation ceremony as well as the party on the following Sunday. After connecting with the Lord during a time of semi-seclusion and silence, I was able to re-connect with ten of my brothers and sisters. Only one of my siblings was unable to attend. She lives in South Carolina. As you may have been counting, I am from a large family.
My retreat was spent with part of my spiritual family. As a Daughter of St. Paul I am a member of what's called the "Pauline Family." My retreat director was Father Ignatius, SSP. The SSP stands for Society of St. Paul. Today in New York's Staten Island borough, members of the Daughters of St. Paul and the Society of St. Paul are celebrating the anniversary of the arrival of the pioneer Paulines in America in 1932. After an ocean voyage of about 12 days, the future priests and the young Sisters arrived in the Port of New York with few belongings and much faith. For the historians among you, 1932 was the height of the Great Depression. Those were days when every nickel went a long way. The Sisters' first home was a small apartment in the Bronx. In 1936 the Sisters and the Fathers moved to Staten Island locations.
The chapel where I spent my days of retreat is well air conditioned. The Lord provided perfect weather for my time of more intense prayer. The nights were cool and the days comfortably warm and sunny. Father suggested some New Testament readings which had a lot of substance and meaning for me. At night time traffic on the road outside seemed quiet. The only noise at night came from what I think were frogs who kept up an alto and bass chant all night. Even the flying creatures like flies and mosquitoes were pretty tame and restrained. One morning three large deer showed up on the back lawn. I could hear coyotes, I saw several rabbits, and ground hogs were around too. "Wild life" in this our area of Toronto is limited to black and grey squirrels, sea gulls and a few other birds. One morning as I left the front door of chapel, a chipmunk zoomed by me, practically running right over my feet. A mulberry tree at the monastery is home to several kinds of birds and a host of chipmunks. I wish you all have the opportunity to one day spend a week of prayerful retreat in a place similar to that where I was in Ohio. I will post here some of the photos of St. Paul's Monastery so you can see what I mean.
The pond whihc is in the back of tghe monastery was a favorite place for meditation. I call it the "Reflection Pool," since I could see the trees and shrubs all reflected like a mirror on the pond's surface. A robin is framed by the remains of an ancient mulberry tree.