Come Away

On July 6, I woke up oh darn early, packed my breakfast and lunch and kissed Fred goodbye. I took Gracie (my bike) onto the Skytrain then bus to Horseshoe Bay.

At 7:40 am, I clicked into her pedals and rode north with the Pacific Ocean on one side of me and trees, mountains, and streams on the other. Oh yes, and there were plenty of vehicles rumbling by on Highway 99 to Whistler and plenty of hills, too–forty kilometres of them. But there were less of both on the last leg of my pilgrimage along the bike paths to Brackendale and up Squamish Valley Road.

Sister Mary Regina had warned our little group coming to Queen of Peace for a retreat that bears were about, so I made sure to ring my bell occasionally.

This was going to be my third eight-day retreat with the other Ignatian directors. As in previous retreats, we would be in silence. Like the others, each day I’d see a director who’d assign four or five one-hour prayer periods. And once again, I had no control over what might or might not happen. My job was simply to open myself to God in the solitude and wait.

Glacier laden peaks came into view time and again as I cycled along the Cheakamus River. Aspen and fir trees shaded me from the midday sun and delivered me to the Dominican monastery on Cloudburst Crescent. I passed beehives, vegetable gardens, and meadows on the property then walked Gracie up the steep driveway to the monastery.

Sister Jean-Marie welcomed me in and suggested I sit in the chapel for a moment to catch my breath. I took off my cycling shoes and entered the sanctuary crafted from wood and stone. I was dumbstruck by the floor to ceiling window that framed the Tantalus mountains.

As I made my way to the retreat house, I was enfolded by even more beauty: flowers and hummingbirds, a bench by a cool stream, paths to explore and a spacious retreat house with big windows and another spectacular view.

But that was for later; all I wanted now was a shower. I stripped out of my sweaty spandex and lingered under the warm water grateful that my sixty-year-old body had gotten me here safely.

Dressed in fresh clothes and feeling deliciously clean and tired, I laid back on the couch and closed my eyes to rest.

I hadn’t even begun to pray, but God had already wooed me.

Come away, my beloved,
    and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
    on the spice-laden mountains.
–Song of Songs 8:14

***

Love Mischief for the World

It’s one thing to come away on retreat for a week; it’s quite another to be called to a cloistered life. But God has done much love-mischief through the Dominicans who are an order of preachers. So it’s not surprising that both Sisters Mary Regina and Jean-Marie have written books. But so much of what the nuns do is preached without words. “We offer monastic welcome to those who are seeking a time of silence and prayer (cf. Monastic Welcome),” the sisters write. “By providing a beautiful sacred space where people can get away from the ‘rat race’ they experience the ancient monastic rhythm of life with its ebb and flow of liturgical prayer and silence. It is fitting that we should choose a place where the Creator of the Universe can speak to hearts in the midst of Canada’s awesome natural beauty.”

What love mischief are you and God doing to care for the earth?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
“Riding on Gracie” (in the Kananaskis, Alberta) by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
Photo of Queen of Peace monastery by Esther Hizsa.
Photo of nuns from the Queen of Peace Website. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Ignatian Spirituality, Prayer, Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Come Away

  1. Gail says:

    Thank you for sharing and being being a vessel for God’s love. I hear “Come away with me” and feel a deep longing…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Esther Hizsa says:

    Thanks, Gail. Glad you’re feeling that beautiful longing.

    Like

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