The grounds of the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, where I am doing my retreat, are absolutely lovely. The retreat house grounds abut Lake Winnebago (large enough so I can almost pretend I’m back near an ocean), and there are many swings and benches located along the lake. There are also walking trails and a nature path.
On one of my first morning walks, I found the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, located a bit away from the main retreat house. It is a small round building. When I walked inside, I walked around the quarter-circle brick wall to the opening of the shrine area and there saw a statue that surprised and delighted me.
I am not someone moved by traditional depictions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Jesus standing there holding a heart in His hand is not an image that touches me. But when I saw this statue, my thought was: this is truly the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
The statue was of Jesus sitting with a small boy standing at his side. Jesus’ right arm is around the boy, whose eyes are closed and whose head leans in, resting on Jesus. The boy’s right hand is holding Jesus’ left hand resting on Jesus’ knee and the boy’s other hand rests gently on Jesus’ forearm. Jesus’ gazes intently at the boy, as though there is no one else in the world. Total love and compassion pouring out of Jesus. And the child there in total trust and comfort.
I saw there for a long time looking at the statue and feeling myself lean into Jesus’ like the little boy. Every once in a while I felt myself metaphorically jerking up as if to say to Jesus “But I need to tell you x…I have to figure out y…We need to talk about z…” And I felt Jesus saying, “Shh, that’s OK. There will be plenty of time for that. For now, just sit with me.”
And I did.