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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Claiming Life!

I was very much a go down town for a milk shake, bowling, a movie with your best buddies kind of guy in my late teen years. A great date (movie, a big box of popcorn, a sandwich, fries, and a soda afterwards--- we walked downtown and bring to my friend's residence hall) would cost me fifteen dollars (twenty if I were really trying to impress the lovely lady).
Then I found myself, at the age of twenty, joining a Catholic religious community, and I passed my first three years as a member of that group in the high hills around Sheridan, Oregon. Many a night I found myself looking out of one of the windows that faced downtown and, a few miles down that high hill was an outdoor theatre. I could see these huge male and female figures on the movie screen. Many a tearful night I cried myself to sleep, wondering what I was doing and moaning and groaning about what I had given up.
If even a close friend would have said to me that a few gray haired years later I would be utterly delighted to pass a weekend at a retreat center located near the Rocky Mountains with no phone, no television, and no radio. And that I, along with three couples would be guiding twenty five couples through a WorldWide Marriage Encounter Weekend, I would have shook my head, sure that the woman or man with whom I was talking had lost her/his complete mind!I did enjoy my time at the Saint Malo Retreat Center.

The three couples were wonderful. They got the couples crying during the tough times of the presentations, laughing during those moments as they told their stories which every loving married couple have had to work their weary way through, and those wonderful, wonderful moments we all have experienced when we finally realized that sharing all that we are with other people was the reason we were given life.Early in the morning and late in the evening I found myself quietly and peacefully watching the mountains as I considered the sorrows and joys the presenting couples and the men and women who came to see me had shared with me.

And deep inside of me, around me, in the eyes of all who attended the WorldWide Marriage Encounter, I felt myself being changed for the better, being guided and nurtured by that mysterious, loving Power many of us call God. The picture I have included here is a photograph of a painting which was left anonymously at the front desk of the retreat center. It is a picture of a chapel which is located on the same property as St. Malo's Retreat Center. Besides this beautiful chapel, is there anything else you can see in this picture?

Enjoy this film of the pool and the trees and sky just outside of St. Malo!


Jaynie Jones said...

Absolutely idyllic! My heart yearns for the serenity of just such a place...

Stephanie Frieze said...

I second Jaynie's emotion!