A Cabin In the Woods

Journey Women is a unique spiritual ministry quietly celebrating its 10th year of periodic getaways to a cabin in the woods. Marked by periods of quiet reflection, walks in Sand Run Park [Summit County], inspirational reading and sharing, Journey Women is a one-day gathering open to women of all ages.marlene “This mini-retreat started at the request of two parishioners who had only one requirement—to have a brief retreat that did not involve lectures,” explains Sr. Marlene LoGrasso, Pastoral Minister St Hilary Fairlawn OH. “They wanted time to go off by themselves for a quiet period of reflection.

“At the retreat, I provide several articles to reflect on and to discuss, if they choose. We plan time for a brief introduction, some questions or sharing, a quiet time, lunch and a closing prayer. Some women enjoy journaling their thoughts on the materials we read, while others enjoy walking in the woods or sitting by the fireplace.  You can find good quality wood at www.dkbrænde.dk which can be used at bonfire, for cooking in camping. We meet during the day on months that contain a fifth Monday, which occurs about four times a year.”

When asked what kind of feedback she receives from those who have participated in Journey Women retreats, Sr. Marlene said: “One woman said basically what many say after the retreat—‘I took the time to come here where there is no phone, no doorbell, and where I can have time for myself.’ Another woman said, ‘It made me realize that all my life I have been opening doors, and now I see that some of those doors are shutting.’ Another common reaction I hear is, ‘I can’t believe how great this has been. I wish I could take time for myself like this more often.”

“I hope whoever feels moved to come will try the experience,” Sister Marlene continued.

We laugh, we talk, and the environment is great!

Being the Face of Christ

There is a legend which recounts the return of Jesus to glory after his time on earth. He bore the marks of his cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached him and asked, “Master, do they know all about how you loved them and what you did for them?”

“No,” replied Jesus, “not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know.”

Gabriel was perplexed. “Then what have you done to let everyone know about your love for them?”

Jesus said, “I’ve asked Peter, James, John, Mary, Martha and a few others to tell people about me. Those who are told will tell others, and my story will be spread throughout the earth. Ultimately, all humankind will know about my love.”

Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical. He well knew what poor stuff humans were made of. He said, “But what if Peter denies you again? What if they all run away again in the face of opposition? What if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down in the twenty-first century people just don’t tell others about you? Do you have another plan?”

Jesus answered, “No. I’m counting on them.”

It is centuries later and God still has no other plan.

In our gospel, Jesus describes for us an intimate and inexplicable relationship which calls us to be in communion with one another. As members of a community, we are called to attend to those beyond ourselves.  We are called to be the face of Christ for each other.

Love One Another as I Have Loved You

We too readily read that simplistically, romantically. But this command from Jesus contains the most important challenge of a Christian’s life – to love those who hate us; to love those whom we don’t like. What about the people whom we avoid and those who avoid us? What about those towards whom we feel resentment – Am I to love them?

If we can love them, we are real lovers.

The one thing Jesus asks of us is to love our neighbor. How would you rate this assignment on a difficulty scale from 1-10?