I am sitting on a New Jersey Transit train en route to San Alphonso Retreat House in Long Branch NJ. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I will be on retreat there for the next week.
I smiled when I realized I begin my retreat later today on this feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Among other things it provides a beautiful link between my recent days at the Jesuit Retreat House in OshKosh and these upcoming days.
On the grounds of theOshKosh Retreat House is a Shrine of the Sacred Heart. It is a small round building. When you enter, you face a quarter-circle brick wall to the opening of the shrine area to the statue representing the Sacred Heart.
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 I remember thinking, the first time I saw this statue: this is truly the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
The statue is 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 resting in total trust and comfort.
And that, to me, seems a wonderful image with which to begin my retreat: resting on total trust and comfort in the arms of my God. That doesn’t mean the retreat will necessarily be easy; retreats often raise challenges or bring to the surface pains that need healing. But whatever this time will bring, I will not be alone.