Not long ago I was in the midst of a three day fast that culminated in a 24 hour solitude retreat at the Franciscan Retreat Center up near Colorado Springs.
Believe it or not, for all of my emphasis on the life of discipline and devotion, that was the first such personal retreat I had EVER taken. For real.
For years, I made excuses for not doing it (too busy, one car = stranding Mandi and the kids for a day or so, not enough cash, don’t know where to go, blah blah blah). Meanwhile, however, I consoled myself with a thought that I nurtured in my heart: namely, that deep down I really am a “retreat” guy. A hermit-in-waiting who happens to have, at the moment, a lot of commitments and responsibilities that preclude the possibility of me giving myself over to my TRUE identity.
So when the day of this little solitude retreat came, I was really looking forward to it, and secretly believed that once I got into it, I’d never want it to end. That it would be this gloriously blissful day of inspiration and revelation in which I felt completely comfortable, confident, and at ease.
And then a funny thing happened… a realization that at once surprised me and brought me “home” in my heart. I wrote the experience down in my journal, which I’m sharing with you here. Enjoy. Be inspired. An “uncommon, common holiness” is possible for each one of us.
Been in COS at this lovely Franciscan retreat center for four or so hours now. Good time so far. The weather is quite good and this place is literally in the mountains. Just finished up a really nice walk to the top of a mountain (fasting and all) and back down again.
A funny, and unexpected, yet deeply joyful and freeing thing happened on the way back to my room: I admit to myself that I am homesick. And that is not at all out of a desire to avoid God (how my soul loves God!), or a fear of solitude (how I love solitude!), because of something deeper: a core belief and desire that holiness should be attained in the tumble of the ordinary. That the real arena of my sanctification is with Mandi and Bella, Ethan and Gabe and Liam. That godliness is formed in blessing (and cleaning up!) meals, and in changing diapers with joy, and hugging my friends and saying “hello!” to my neighbors.
I believe that deep union, an emptying of the soul into God, is possible not just in the cloister, but also and perhaps especially in the home and marketplace. In the familiar sights, sounds, smells, and routines, a radical glory can be made manifest.
If you ask me what my deepest desire in life is, it is that. Union with God in the ordinary. A “table holiness.”