religion

Retreating

A mini retreat. In Singapore. Time away, for a Kumon conference. Every child above grade level…inspiring, to give children the tools of study skills, to help them achieve and thus feel good about their learning.

And experiencing the treats of Singapore..Mass and Benediction at the Church of St Peter and St Paul; First Saturday Mass at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd; fish cooked in bamboo leaves; shops and palm trees and humidity and pungent smells..and clean streets…and Singapore Slings.

So why do I say this is a mini retreat?

It is because I find that every lttle foray out of my usual routine, my life as a working homeschooling mum, is a mini retreat. I am forced to have time to myself..to think..to read ( ah, Breath, Tim Winton took my breath away)…to pray more..to contemplate in prayer..especially on that long flight.

It is not that my daily bread of work,volunteer stuff, homeschooling, mass, kids, housework, family, friends, is terrble. The reverse is in fact true.

But, because I live in a constant rush, I like this rush you know, so I tend to live my holidays and conferences in a blur of activity too. When I am forced to sit, to be on my own, while travelling alone and in a hotel room on my own ( eighteenth floor! great views!)..when this is forced upon me, I grab the time. Thus, a conference and time away becomes a spiritual retreat.

While retreating in Singapore, I am thinking about my life..about giving up …in this case for God.

As someone pointed out to me, life as-I-know-it can be a lesson in expropriation. Now, I have only previously understood this term in legal terms ie the process of taking over the property of another, by any means, legal or not.

But expropriation in my life, as it was described to me, and as I reflect on my actions and on my words and activities, this expropriation means more of a giving up. Giving up for God. A voluntary renunciation..or, at least an act that becomes voluntary even though it was n0t originally of one’s choice.

This voluntary expropriation, this emptying of self, creates peace in the soul … it is not a means of removing all suffering; however, peace in the soul is the foundation of an interior life, an interior life of prayer…to paraphrase St Basil.

So, in emptying myself, I give up something for God. And I ponder on what else I may be called to give up, what else I should, of my own will, give up…and the limits, if any, of this renunciation.

Or should I give up all that I do not wish to give up; all that I grasp and clutch ; do I empty self completely..for a higher intention?

As I said in our group discussion at the conference today, to a Kumon staff member, who laughed and nodded in wry agreement..why do I have to go away , go overseas, to sort out my Kumon centre..and parts of my life?

Kenosis. ( If you are like me, you read ketosis and thought of the Atkins Diet!)

But kenosis . Self emptying. And Phillipians 2:5-11 was shared with me as a example of this self emptying, of this kenosis. St Paul writes…”He emptied himself..”

Or, as St Francis, wrote..” There is the great paradox of our journey; that by letting go we gain, by losing we find.”

And so, after a night of dancing at the Equinox Nightclub ( seventy first floor of the Raffles Convention Centre! Great views of Singapore), and of drinking and talking in the City Bar and singing along with the pianist and singer ( Total Eclipse of the Heart! Bonnie Tyler)..so I end my mini retreat with thoughts on expropriation and of kenosis. Is God calling me to give up some things voluntarily? Should I empty myself, for a greater intention? ( And, after all the drinking..can I type straight?).

It is definitely a total eclipse of the heart, for His Love and His purpose.
But will I remember this, on my return to “normal” life?

Turn around bright eyes…..

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