Pilgrim Path

This blog is the work of a seeker and poet. Walking stick in hand, I head out into the world, not of the world, but in the world. My words and my friends carry me along and light the pilgrim path of spiritual journeys.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

THE JOURNEY BEGINS – the players    

We may have Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City”, and the eight million stories in television’s “Naked City,” but I am guessing there may be just as many stories (if not nearly as salacious but always fully clothed) at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Trappist, Kentucky. Many of the tales may lay hidden and never be spoken. Others yet will slowly unwind as the dance of silence between monk and retreatant slowly evolves from a mere head nod to a full-fledged conversation.

Last week, I had the pleasure of my fourth retreat in ten years to Gethsemani (as she is named in shorthand by all who know her). Each retreat experience has been different, not so much by whom I happened to be traveling with at the time but much more by where I happened to be on my own journey. Before we get to that however, I will share some information about this year’s traveling companions.

When we began planning this trip, we had about 7 or 8 men who had expressed an interest. It was a very diverse group of folks whose sole bond of commonality was knowing me. We worked with a tight schedule and had to make some adjustments which ultimately caused us to lose a prospective retreatant (or several) along the way. In the end, there were 3 of us who journeyed out of Chicago, down the length of Indiana and crossed over into Kentucky.

Retreatant A. is a long tenured Art professor at an Illinois state university who specializes in Central African art. But A’s life experiences and ceaseless quest for knowledge (not to mention unique knick knacks) gives him a broad background that he freely shares with others without seeming pedantic. Always cheerful and ready for an adventure, A. spent 15 years of his life as a Jesuit before marrying his charming wife, raising a family and now basking in the glowing faces of deeply loved grandchildren.

Retreatant D. is a senior massage therapist at a very popular and classy men’s spa in Chicago. He is a spiritual seeker who has learned to trust his instincts as he creates his own map for his spiritual journey. (Believe me, there’s a map – I’ve seen it on his SmartPhone!) D. is also an adventurous sort. I knew when he said he wanted to come that I would need to find a way to get a camera into his hands as he would walk and walk for days all over the grounds and see things I’d never see with my own eyes. You will witness the truth behind this if you stick with me (and if the words agree to flow out of my fingertips for a few days longer).

And then there is me.

That’s enough for now. Stay tuned for more on this amazing retreat experience soon...

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