“Aging: The Open Door to the Rest of Your Life” — June 22, 2024

This retreat will be repeated on February 1, 2025 on ZOOM. Here is the description. Please let me know if you would like to attend.

“The Lord opened a door of opportunity for me.” (2 Corinthians 2:12)

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” (Alexander Graham Bell)

Are you standing in the liminal space between the closed door of a known past and the open door to an unknown future?  

This retreat is designed to help you see the opportunity presented by the open door of aging.  If you regard aging as an integral part of God’s gift of life, you can be confident about stepping through that door.  How can you support and sustain that confidence?  By creating your own Credo of Aging — a statement of beliefs and approaches that will help you flourish in a new and meaningful stage of life.

This retreat will be a time of personal discovery.  Using a variety of creative and spiritual tools, you will review what has brought you to this time of transition.  You will design your Credo, an approach to the future that is uniquely yours, because it will be based on your own history and your own aspirations. 

Aging is an experience that is both universal and unique.  As part of the mortal human community, we all take a journey from birth through life until death.  As unique individuals, we take this journey in ways that no one else ever has, or ever will.  And along the way, we encounter challenge and opportunity, success and failure, joy and sorrow, clarity and deep mystery.  Doors close, doors open, paths unfurl ahead of us and detours and crossroads abound.  Always — if we are paying attention — there are questions about the meaning of life, and how to fulfill it, how to honor what God has freely given us.  Whenever these questions come upon us, that is the time to begin engaging with them.  This retreat may be your time.  

“Children of War: Reflection ~ Prayer ~ Awareness ~ Response” — April 27, 2024

This retreat, co-led with Mary Blankenship, will be held again during Lent 2025 (exact date TBD).

Join us for an interactive experience of reflection, prayer, awareness and response about the reality of war’s impact on the children of the world.  We will open ourselves to the horror of that reality … acknowledge the helplessness that it can engender in us … but most importantly, focus on concrete steps we can take as individuals to nurture hope for the entire world.  “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

“Making Our Way with Jesus to the Cross” — March 23, 2024

A version of this retreat will be take place on January 11, 2025. Plesse let me know if you’d like to attend.

We invite you to prepare to enter Holy Week by freshly experiencing a traditional practice: following the “Way (the “Stations”) of the Cross.”  Walk, reflect and pray with Jesus as He is condemned to death, as He makes His tortured way through Jerusalem to Golgotha, as He consoles His Mother, as He encounters the kindness of Veronica and the grief of the women of Jerusalem, as He weakens, stumbles and falls, as He is crucified, dies and is buried.  Our faith tells us that death is not the end, that it is the necessary door to eternal life, that the Resurrection belongs to Jesus and to us.  Facing the reality of Jesus’s death helps deepen our belief in this mystery. 

Participants will receive a copy of The Way of the Cross: The Path to New Life by Sister Joan Chittister with illustrations by Janet McKenzie. Participants will also have the opportunity to follow the Way using the Monastery’s own unique resources: the outdoor version (on the path to the Benedictine Cemetery) and the wall plaques designed for indoor display.  Both of these meditative art resources were reverently crafted by Sister Angela Meister.

“Come, Rejoice with Us” — March 9, 2024

Co-led with Nancy Hendricks.

Mid-way through the penitential season of Lent comes a bright spot of hope and joy: the 4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday.  The liturgical color of the day — rose — shines like a beacon against the unrelenting purple of Lent, a visual sign to the faithful that Easter is within our sight.

Named for the Latin word for “rejoice”, Laetare Sunday helps us remember God’s grace, mercy and unconditional love.  The day gives new energy to our traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and sharpens our focus on how to live in right relationship with God and others.

Yes, Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death loom ahead of us.  But Laetare Sunday reminds us that from the tragedy of the Passion arises the reality of Christ’s Resurrection, with the assurance that we all share in that miraculous gift of eternal life and light.  With our faith thus strengthened, we can resume our Lenten observances with renewed commitment. 

Please join us for a special gathering to celebrate with words, art and music the joyful anticipation of Resurrected life.  Our time together will be guided by Susan Black and Nancy Hendricks, Oblates and experienced Shalom at the Monastery retreat leaders.

“Finding Treasure in Ancient Practices: Walking the Labyrinth and Making Mandalas” — December 2, 2023

The retreat will be held again on October 5, 2024.

What treasure do we seek in our lives, and where can it be found?

As people of faith, we seek God, the ultimate treasure.  And our faith tells us that God can always be found, anywhere and everywhere, including within ourselves. “Seek and you shall find,” the Gospel assures us.

The search can be daunting!  We often shy away from the kind of deep introspection that can lead to true self-knowledge and reveal God’s intimate presence.  But remember that the Gospel also assures us: “Do not be afraid.” 

In this retreat, you will learn about two time-honored practices known for their ability to bring us closer to God.  You will discover how to fold these meditative practices into your lives, gently and easily.  You will enjoy time spent walking the Monastery’s labyrinth (accessible alternatives available), making your own mandalas (all materials supplied) and sharing new experiences with others also seeking to find the treasure that is God. 

“The Virtue of Holy Surprise — What It Means for Your Practice of Joy” — June 24, 2023

Whether or not you “like” surprises, have you ever stopped to consider their place in your spiritual life?  Since all things come from God, surprises are potential sources of holiness. Surprises can lead to a keener awareness of God’s presence, deeper self-knowledge and a greater appreciation for the world.  And if you are committed to living joyfully, cultivating “holy surprise” as a virtue can be a source of invaluable support for your practice.   

This retreat will explore the twinned natures of surprise and joy, and the power they hold to reveal God’s truth, beauty and goodness.  Through discussion, reflection, art and writing experiences, prayer, music, other activities and quiet time, participants will learn how surprise and joy can transform … everything.  2 Corinthians 5:17-18: “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.  And all this is from God …”.

“Enter the New Year with Joy” — January 7, 2023

So many challenges exist in our individual and personal circumstances, and within our families, our communities, our state, our country, our world.

How can women and men of faith enter 2023 with joy and thus know God’s presence?

How can we empower ourselves to live with joy?  

How can we “rejoice always”, as St. Paul urges?

Is it even right and correct to live joyfully, given the “signs of the times” that we face?

This retreat is designed to help answer these questions, and more.  Through discussion, reflection, art and writing experiences, prayer, music, other activities and quiet time, participants will learn how to increase their ability to live in God-given joy — and gain confidence in the power of individual personal joy to transform … everything.  As St. Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”