“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” — John 4:13-14
Once again I joined my good friends on our annual weekend retreat to Our Lady of Calvary in Farmington, Connecticut. Once again, in the days preceding the get-away, I questioned, “Do I really need to go?”
It is quiet there, but it’s quiet in my home, too. Someone else does the cooking there, but I can’t say I do a lot of cooking here on the weekends. As empty-nesters, Ted and I eat out often now.
At OLOC, I must share a bathroom with others. At home? Not so much. Despite my negative pondering and reluctance to pack a suitcase, due to the appeal of reliable comradery with wonderful friends, the thought of kind and welcoming Sisters, and the knowledge that a delightful priest would be on call for the weekend’s duration, I was motivated to make my way to the retreat center on a chilly Friday evening.
The theme of the weekend was “If Only You Knew the Gift.” As you can imagine, that enticed me, as well, since I am constantly preaching to you, and to myself, to put gifts from God to good use. Dreaming up ways to use my gifts (a.k.a. wanting to feel useful) gets me out of bed each and every day.
God’s gifts to us are numerous, but the greatest gift is His unwavering love for us with all of our goodness and with all of our failings. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
As a means of making this point, the OLOC team suggested reflecting on The Samaritan Woman at the well (John 4:4-30). In group discussions, as retreatants shared a multitude of “take-aways” on the scripture, I found myself ruminating about “choices.”
When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, He told her He knew about her life, which I understand to mean He clearly knew the choices she had made. Regardless of her poor choices, He saw good in her AND He loved her.
It made me think about many of the choices I have made over the years. (Fortunately, I do not recall most of them!) Some were poor choices and, therefore, I endured the consequences. Other choices were risky, yet worked out well. Some of my choices were right for me, but they did not sit well with people I deeply cared about. I know God loves me and still sees the good in me even when I make a poor choice. As human beings, the challenge for us is to still see the good in others despite what we believe to be their poor choices.
It is a wonderful blessing to share a world with a variety of humans upon whom God has bestowed a vast assortment of gifts. How empty life would feel if we all had the ability to
crochet a tablecloth, yet not one of us could swing a hammer to build a table upon which to place the cloth. Can you imagine the dullness of our days should each of us make the exact same choices every day? Would McDonald’s only sell one kind of hamburger with one particular topping? I love to make quilts, but I lack so many other valuable skills. What if, for example, there were no talented hair dressers? I seriously doubt I would ever leave my home!
Many of us found 2012 to be a year of unique challenges. There were difficult choices to be made, and by the time I was deciding about whether or not to go on the retreat, I was considerably worn out by those decisions. Why did I go on retreat? Like the Samaritan Woman making her way to the well, I was quite thirsty.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.