"Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home "
The geese that normally rest along the shoreline of the mist-coated lake of the new day’s early morning hour were absent today. No typical honks or to echoes of flapping loosened feathers were present to pierce the silence and solitude.
“ Have they heard the news of the potential storm heading this way and took their
chevron formation to some safe lake further inland? Or , did they begin their communal charted pre-Labor day trek south to their winter retreat?”
The anticipated consociation transformed, the solitude gingerly tiptoed it’s path between the rocks along the shoreline and desolation. Expectation of a forthcoming hurricane is not anomalous as storms are usually advance notices of a change in season. Leaves departing their branches and the transition from warm sea breezes to chilling winds that cause one to lift their collars should be enough to indicate change. However, it seems that nature prefers a dramatic entrance.
This observation conjures a recollection of when the exiled pilgrim had arrived circuitously at the place of hallowed ground that was coincidentally only a short distance from his own home port .Yet , it took finding shelter a thousand miles from this port to receive an invitation to this proximate hallowed ground.
While on a journey seeking legal tender for the selective apportionment of talents a new refuge was discovered overlooking the big muddy that once carried Tom, Huck and Jim into a new world. The prayer on the precipice sparked a consolation that evolved into an unexpected invitation from a recovering resident priest . He knew of a secret hidden hallowed ground along millionaires row not far from this adventurer’s Ithaca.
The sailor's loyal companion, Argos, welcomed the pilgrim on the return to his home and forgave him unconditionally for his meanderings and belief that self discovery was achieved through attachments to worldly things and victories. Both kept the secret of the probability that pilgrim’s journey was not over and that it had most likely just begun. Without discussion, a chart or a plan the pilgrim set out to find that sacred place the recovering priest had described.
In due course the holy ground , once the shelter for a famous former money trader who’s family gifted it for the greater glory, was found without much drama or consternation. This blessed place was now the home of the companions who were called to serve all pilgrims in need of rest on their journeys.
The first companion welcomed this pilgrim and queried:
“ Where have you been? We have always been here and we have been waiting for you”
The pilgrim retorted,
“No one had ever invited me before.”
The first companion ,
“You were invited when you started your journey. You were just too busy to listen to the voice calling you.”
The first companion introduced this self described wayward imperfect sailor to a second companion who then took it upon himself to be the pilgrim’s sherpa . They put the pilgrim’s baggage aside and the journey started anew. These newly found companions immediately loved this sinner and lowered his paralyzed heart into the presence of the wonder counselor. The journey and the man would then never be the same. This house of retreats and solitude had become the intermittent safe harbor from which this pilgrim would take respite to be consoled, illuminated and recharged as he kept retreating from the storms and the wrath of contemptuous world-wise demons . The abundance of blessings of the past became more obvious as grace bathed him while he was immersed into his own new season.
Suddenly the early morning’s meditation concerning the purpose of the little lake for the traveling geese made sense. All creatures need safe harbors and companions on their journey.
Post script: As the Next Season begins
Just a month ago I happened to visit my old friend and former spiritual director
Fr. Lou., who now lives three hours from my home We hadn’t seen each other in years. It took only a minute for us to rekindle the spark that connected us twenty years ago. Also, I ran into former retreat house director , Dick ,who now lives up north not far from Lou and has a new life and family. He and I met again at the retreat house. It was good to reconnect. But then Fr. Tom ,my Buddha, who has been showing wear and tear of a long-time dedicated shepra who had a stroke and has been taken to the society’s infirmary. He has taught me much and I pray for him constantly. Now I discover that that first companion, Fr. Bill, who would eventually guide me
through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius has been transferred with fellow companion Fr. Ed both near Dick and Lou. I will miss them both as I miss them all. Maybe I need to head north?
I wonder if the fond memories of grace will carry me through my next season and if their “house on holy ground” will continue as source of consolation and safe harbor .
Thank you for The Society of Jesus - especially Lou, Dick, Bill, Ed, Tom, Gerry, Kirk , all the companions who have welcomed me on my journey
into their safe harbors of White House , Loyola and Eastern Point .
The Earth Turned to Bring Us Closer
The earth turned to bring us closer,
it spun on itself and within us,
and finally joined us together in this dream
as written in the Symposium.
Nights passed by, snowfalls and solstices;
time passed in minutes and millennia.
An ox cart that was on its way to Nineveh
arrived in Nebraska.
A rooster was singing some distance from the world,
in one of the thousand pre–lives of our fathers.
The earth was spinning with its music
carrying us on board;
it didn't stop turning a single moment
as if so much love, so much that's miraculous
was only an adagio written long ago
in the Symposium’s score.
(Eugenio Montejo, 1938)