Saturday 18 June 2011
Today was the first full day of our month-long retreat. It was a day dedicated in large part to getting to be familiar with the lay of the land, while also familiarizing ourselves with one another. Although we come from a diverse set of backgrounds and represent several different geographic locations (within the OFM world, these geographic sectors are called Provinces – there are seven in the United States), there is much more that we share in common as friars than we might at first think. This makes getting to know each other all the more easy and is really reflected in the way each friar gets along with the group.
The day began with a video conference with Joe Rosanzky, OFM, a friar from my Province who has worked at the OFM headquarters in Rome – in Church-terminology, the Curia – for six years coordinating the international Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) office. It was great to speak with him about intercultural matters and reflect for a short time on some JPIC issues.
The technology that allows for someone several thousand miles away, experiencing a time difference of 9 hours, to speak with us in real time is truly a blessing. Such experiences, and there are several more scheduled in upcoming weeks, really enriches the retreat.
This afternoon we were given a preliminary tour of the larger grounds, a historical site that is quite impressive and rather important in the history of California, the United States and the Church. I look forward to learning more about the mission and the surrounding site in upcoming weeks.
After evening prayer, preprandium (a time between prayer and dinner when the friars gather to have some refreshments and talk) and dinner, a group of about seven of us went for a walk all the way to Pacific Ocean and back. We were out for about three hours, and although our legs are tired now, it was well worth it. We had a great time strolling through downtown Santa Barbara, enjoying each other’s company and seeing the sun finally appear and the quickly set over the mountains. Until about 6:00pm the sky was entirely overcast all day. So much for sunny California!
This was my second time downtown today. I had gone for an exploratory run earlier this morning, having made it all the way to the beach and then down the coast for a while before running back home – not a short run by any means. It felt good to go for a run after being so jetlagged and tired from traveling the day before. While I’m still a bit out of it, I hope to be back to normal by tomorrow and up to 100 percent by Monday!
In other, perhaps more spiritual news, I’ve begun sitting with the Gospel of Luke. By far my favorite Gospel, there are parts of that text that really speak to me, especially of vocation. As I am invited to reflect upon the decision to profess Solemn Vows in the Order of Friars Minor over this month, I feel particularly drawn to reflect upon parts of that Gospel. I imagine you might be reading about some of these prayerful thoughts in the not-so-distant future.
As always, thanks for the prayers and support!