Not that God is exhausting. It’s veering off and working our way back onto the path that takes up so much energy. The busyness of life is tiring all by itself. Allowing God to participate takes a lot of energy because we’re just not used to it. Besides, God’s participation in our lives is rather startling when you concentrate on his presence.
The number of stories about God’s impact never dwindled, and we all shared some remarkable tales.
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By John Pearring
The men’s retreat this weekend was exhausting. That’s not usually what someone says about religious retreats. But five handfuls of men wandering around, visiting, and having a good time will wear out the best of the male species.
The theme of the retreat was built upon Bishop Barron's Word on Fire videos from his Sunday Sermons, which aptly fit our campfire venue. Our sharing was intensely personal, so not many stories can be shared openly. The setting and activities, though, easily explain our time together.
I was overly tired after three days of setup, prayer, walking, teaching, eating, and cleaning up. Especially when you do all those things while chatting, laughing, evading campfire smoke, and challenging your soul with twenty-plus of your favorite man friends.
Even the eating part was exhausting. We took turns laying the tables, cooking, and washing up. We wore ourselves out, chewing and talking at the same time.
Retreats have this strange quality of highlighting God in every moment while we do pretty much the same things we always do. That’s the exhausting part. No matter what we talked about or ate, the retreat’s messages of listening for God, speaking for God, and bowing our lives to God put our body, soul, and mind in God’s path.
Not that God is exhausting. It’s veering off and working our way back onto the path that takes up so much energy. The busyness of life is tiring all by itself. Allowing God to participate takes a lot of energy because we’re just not used to it. Besides, God’s participation in our lives is rather startling when you concentrate on his presence. The number of stories about God’s impact never dwindled, and we all shared some remarkable tales.
We got through just one lovely rosary by spreading the five decades before each of the five talks. We prayed out loud only before each meal, though the Mass on Saturday night should count, too.
Steve Hall did a marvelous job culling Bishop Barron’s videos into nine segments. There was so much meat in those talks that we did more chewing on scriptures and metaphors than on hamburgers, steak, muffins, and corn.
All the fellas chipped in, which has this strange effect of upping the ante on helping out. When someone gets up to get you a beer, you follow up, and ensure that everybody gets a second helping or some other kindness.
We did a lot of sitting, but not for long periods. We were too busy getting each other coffee, walking fifty yards to go to the bathroom, tasting treats we’d never eat at home, and repeating funny stories so everyone could laugh.
Our cars were our storage places. The retreat wasn’t held at some dormitory but in the woods. If you needed a hat, a pen, or a Kleenex, you’d walk over to the parking lot and back.
Nothing could be left out overnight due to foraging animals and beasts. So, this odd exercise of refilling our stocked trailer with kitchen goodies and trash not yet ready for the bin added one more community task to the litany of moving chairs around and resorting things. I took advantage of every animal-related thing to plug my book, Snarl.
Did you know that one guy can walk 7,200 steps a day and another can walk 5,000, and both went the same distance? Of course, you knew it, but the count matters in manly competitions. Plus, some guys walk faster than others. There is no godly thing involved in walking steps competitions. It’s just a stupid man thing. We checked our steps constantly, anyway.
I noticed that potato chips are no longer just potato chips. We had bags of every kind of flavor and seasoning and not one bag of plain old potato chips. I had to wash my fingers more often than during COVID.
We mourned the passing of four different men over the past few years. More than once we guessed who’s next, with the scary fact that we would never have picked the names of any of the four we lost.
We added three new younger men this year. Younger in the relative sense, that is. Anyone in their 40’s or 50’s is considered young. There are no traditional reflections to post here this week because all of the discussions were wide-open reactions to the videos by Bishop Barron. For those who care to review, missed the retreat, or are interested in what moves old men to tears, fears, and wonderment, consider the following set from the digital shelves of YouTube. All are taken from Bishop Barron’s Sunday Sermon collections. Some of the talks grouped two related Barron videos. Thanks again to Steve Hall for reviewing and cataloging these videos.
(Presentation Friday Night)
Rescued from the Depths
(Presentation Saturday morning)
Following Jesus Comes First
To What Does Your Heart Belong?
(Presentation Saturday Afternoon)
Everything He Has Is Yours
(Presentation Saturday Evening).
Where to Go When You Cannot Go On
Your Water into God’s Wine
(Sunday Final Presentation).
Have You Found Joy?
We got permission from Word on Fire to use the videos for our retreat. You get an extended happiness to use them since they’re referenced back to our retreat.
Sorry the reflections are so late, but we didn’t finish the retreat until noon, and the winding down of getting Norm to the airport, TVs back in people’s home, and the other unpacking of stuff took most of us right up to dinner time. Tim's was on time, but mine is woefully delayed.