My friend Bill Nolan, pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle church in Minneapolis returned earlier this week from a silent retreat. In his weekly bulletin letter to parishioners, he shared that during this retreat he looked back over his prayer journal from prior retreats. He noted that what the journal contains is mostly questions, “spiritually significant questions” that he has kept coming back to over the years.
In his letter he shared those questions. I share them here because I think they are a great set of questions for retreat and for the spiritual life in general. Bill asks himself
Am I here to make a retreat, or just so that I can tell people I went on retreat? Why can’t I seem to let Jesus in? Who is Jesus for me? Do I believe all of this? What kind of father am I going to make? Is my job my profession or my vocation? Why does love hurt so much sometimes? What kind of husband am I? Is the church something convenient to hide behind so I don’t have to face God directly? How might my feelings of drifting be a gift? How might my feelings of loss be a gift? Why is it so hard for me to accept joy as a gift? Am I here to make a retreat, or just so that I can tell people I went on retreat? Do I know Jesus or just know about him? What kind of a father have I become? I know God loves me; do I believe God likes me? How can I be a spiritual leader for others if I can’t get it right myself? How can others be so sure they hear God’s voice while some days I’m not even sure God exits? Why do I find it so hard to listen to this guy? Why do I find it so easy to listen to this guy? Am I here to make a retreat, or just so that I can tell people I went on retreat?
I just arrived at the Cenacle Retreat House in Ronkokoma, New York, where I’m giving a weekend retreat on the theme Learning to Love Like God. Some of Bill’s questions will certainly be surfacing for my retreatants and I ask you to keep them, and me, in your prayers.
Thank you for sharing Bill’s questions for reflection.
In similar context, the 16 lines quoted above contain 42 references in question form using proper pronouns, how many references do our spiritual journeys (journals) innumerate of encounters with our brothers and sisters were we are asked to be Christ’s presence?
If focus is on serving others, why such concern with accomplishment or achievement? Would one not be better served to long for the next invitation to reach out and share with another. . .