January is the traditional time of new beginnings. Gratefully, we leave behind the old year with its days of joy and especially, days of trouble, its moments of loss and triumph, its seasons of health and illness. Now, a new year stretches before us like a fresh canvas ready for our artistry (and truthfully, our clumsiness, too). New beginnings.
I’m preparing to apply the first strokes of paint, to make some new beginnings. If my retirement unfolds as planned, this January 1st I begin my last year of pastoral ministry at Christ the Servant, a beginning of an end.
In January, I also begin a new online course that teaches how to accompany others in a graced and transformational journey through a ten-month retreat in daily life. For thirty-six (36) Mondays scattered throughout 2022, I will meet for two and one-half (2.5) hours to learn how to lead a retreatant through the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatuis Loyola. The training is the cooperative effort of Conversatio Divina of the Martin Institute in Santa Barbara and the Jesuit Institute of South Africa.
While it might seem an off-topic comment in a description of the training to be a retreat leader, I have to say, I love stories. The retreat is filled with stories, biblical stories, many about Jesus. The Exercises enable the various storytellers of the Bible to draw retreatants deeper into the story world of the Bible. They invite participation in the story events as they unfold.
How does my training help you and Christ the Servant? As a result of the training, I hope to accompany individuals, and especially pastors, on retreats in daily life. People refreshed by deeper immersion into the life with God can only make the church stronger. To this end, please join your prayers to mine that I learn the necessary skills and content. Pray as well for those I might accompany on a journey deeper into our life in Christ.
If this description piques your interest and you would like more information about the retreat, please ask. I’m happy to share what I know and to offer advice about finding someone to guide you through a retreat in daily life.
Those are some of my new beginnings. How do you plan to use the canvas of this new year? What new strokes of paint is God inviting you to apply. This is the time of new beginnings.