For this week’s Flashback Friday, where I use St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Examen as a guide, I will be looking back at not only this past week, but also this past month. So with that mind, I ask myself and you:
For what am I/are you least grateful this past month?
For what am I/are you most grateful this past month?
As usual, I have a hundred thoughts racing through my mind, not the least of which is I don’t have enough time to write this, because I have to go to work at the library. Wednesday, I took out The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson from there and then on Thursday, I learned that I already was a week behind on an online read-along, sponsored by Amanda of The Zen Leaf, of Bleak House by Charles Dickens. This normally wouldn’t be such a big deal, but today and tomorrow I work at the library all day and then tomorrow after work, I leave for a retreat to Mount Saviour Monastery near Elmira, N.Y., where I am a Benedictine oblate. I will be there until Monday.
So my mind was, and still is to some degree, racing with thoughts: How am I going to be able to finish before Wednesday what amounts to 13 chapters of Dickens, which on a good day is only slightly obtuse to my 21st century reading eyes? On the flip side, I just started the Larsson book and was just starting to get back into the series, and, on top of that, when I go to the library today, I might have Mockingjay, the third part of the Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins waiting for me on the hold shelf. How am I going to read all this? Wouldn’t it be wrong to go to a monastery for a scheduled retreat, just to catch up on reading secular books?
This entire month, to some degree, has been like this: getting caught up in the busyness of life, whether it be reading or checking off any other number of mental checklists (which now is “Write this,” “grab something to eat before going to work,” “grab something on the way to eat for lunch later,” “I don’ t even have time to finish this.”).
So because of all that said above, I’ve decided this weekend truly will be a retreat. I’m not taking any of the aforementioned books with me tomorrow night, not because I don’t think I can’t have secular books with me. However, in the spirit of simplicity and charity, two of the principles of St. Benedict, I am making it easy on myself and being charitable to my peace of mind in not taking any of the aforementioned books…and in this case, distractions from the reason I am there: to retreat from the world.
In short, I am putting the world on pause.
So for what are you least/most grateful this past month?