One or two people wanted me to follow up on the silent retreat I took two weeks ago. I'll offer random thoughts and observations:
1. I don't consider it a silent retreat when mothers are allowed to bring nursing babies along. [NOTE: This is likely a pandora's box topic, so let's not allow ourselves dig too deep here, OK?] On the one hand, I don't want to deny a mother the opportunity to go on a retreat just because she's nursing. On the other hand, most of the moms attending this kind of thing are trying to GET AWAY from the noise of children and babies.
In this case, there were two mothers with babies along and lucky Char got the room next door to one of them, also sharing the bathroom. OK, I'm being snarky; it wasn't a problem at all, I barely noticed the baby in the room next door. However, on Friday night I was totally concerned and wondered who thought it was a good idea to allow babies on silent retreat. Of course, the irony is that Sunday morning, when silence was broken for breakfast, I sat with both mothers, connected with them, and left the retreat becoming Facebook friends with one. How the Holy Spirit laughs at me!
2. I've mentioned it here once or twice, but in real life, I have been absolutely terrified and freaking out about the potential prospect of my son's school closing next year. It's been my day-to-day obsession for months now. But when I left the retreat, a spirit of "I don't care" had come over me, with my realizing that whatever happens, God is not abandoning our family. Trust me, this is a good development.
3. A revolutionary concept particular to the Schoenstatt spirituality was revealed to me, which is: Ask Mary to take RESPONSIBILITY to CO-PARENT your children. I bring this up because it was like the biggest, brightest lightbulb moment that I've experienced as a Catholic in years.
A subject I no longer discuss as a blogger is my absolute loathing of being a parent. On the old blog, in the early years when Alan was a baby/toddler, I talked about this quite a bit. Then one day some anonymous a-hole of a commenter came in and read me the riot act, telling me what an atrocious parent I was, predicting that I'd have a completely f-up'd kid because all I did was complain about how much I hated the responsibility of being chained to a kid all day. After that comment, I vowed to pretty much never bring it up again, given that it seemed impossible to communicate my particular situation, mindset, and troubles.
To this day, despite Alan being close to six years old, I still struggle with these same parent issues. I despise the responsibility because I am an A-1 free spirit. Believe me, close friends have raised a few eye brows at some of my parenting choices and attitudes, since I cannot stand being a parent. However, they also know from real life experience and observation of how terribly much I love my son, which is something that cannot be adequately communicated on the internet.
Anyway, since the day I knew I was pregnant right up until today, I have felt alone, oppressed, and resentful about the parental position. So this Schoenstatt teaching has reached deep down into my heart, and it's something that I am going to cling to and examine and attempt to implement in our lives. Note this isn't just asking Mary for daily help at being a mom or dad, which is something we should be doing anyway. Rather, this is literally and seriously asking Mary to step in as a parent to your children. And why not?
4. During a group sharing time, a woman very vocally worried about whether as a married person, she had missed her calling to her true vocation, which would be a religious sister? It got me to thinking how many times I've wondered the same, and also suspecting that many other married women have too. Has that ever happened to you? Personally, I believe such thoughts naturally come out in an atmosphere like a silent retreat, because you're actually quiet enough to be talking to God and/or listening to Him, and when that happens, you recognize how much more you'd like that to happen - like ALL THE TIME - and thus you think, hey, this must be what's it's like for religious, and wait, maybe I missed the boat! Really, though, I think people only have this worry about a missed vocation when the going is tough in their own chosen vocation.
5. Finally, the retreat sealed it for me that I am very drawn to the Schoenstatt spirituality and wish to make their Covenant of Love with Mary, Mother Thrice Admirable. Again, I do plan to blog about Schoenstatt soon, so that I can introduce this movement to others.