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Busy Student Retreat, Spring 2011

March 14, 2011

Monday, March 14 – Busy Student Retreat, Spring 2011

Have you ever thought about how much help you need in your spiritual journey?  The fact of the matter is, finding God and following his will is not something that is easily done alone.  Luckily, I had help for a whole week from my new friend and spiritual companion, Sr. Janet Walsh O.P.  Perhaps you know her as the red-haired Sister from the McGreal Center with the fantastic laugh.  I had the privilege of spending a half an hour with her for four days as a part of the Busy Student Retreat.  Let me tell you, University Ministry never fails to plan the Busy Student Retreat during the most hectic week of the semester… which is why it works so well.  Imagine having your schedule so jammed full of things that there is no time to breathe, only to find that one half hour of your day is spent relaxing with one other person whose attention is solely on you and your connection to God.  Perhaps it sounds impossible or unfavorable, but let me tell you, my time with Sr. Janet was well worth it.

On the Busy Student Retreat last semester I learned how active the Dominican sisters are on our campus and beyond.  Honestly, these ladies have seen the world and know their stuff!  The opportunity to learn from Sr. Joan O’Shea O.P. was invaluable for me as a student who just needed someone to ask questions to.  The wisdom of someone who has “been there and done that” is something that can’t be found anywhere other than another human being.

This semester, Sr. Janet shared something with me that will continue to help me as I go through my busy life.  “The Pilgrim’s Credo” is something she carries in her heart to remind her how to live:

“I am not in control.

I am not in a hurry.

I walk in faith and hope.

I greet everyone with peace.”

I bring back only what God gives me.–Murray Bodo O.F.M.

The Place We Call Home:  Spiritual Pilgrimage as a Path to God

When I first heard this credo I thought it sounded a little strange.  Even the phrase “I am not in control” is somewhat frightening to this perfectionist control freak.  Granted, I’ve been working on lightening up, but admitting that I can’t control the world is a fact of life that scares me sometimes.

The second line is a reminder—when I start to go too fast, “I am not in a hurry” pops into my head to remind me that time will not move at a more favorable pace if I rush.

“I walk in faith and hope” causes me to recall the three Theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.  The fact that “love” or “charity” is not mentioned in this line does not mean it is not included.  Rather, it seems to me that faith and hope lead to love.  Faith in an ever-loving God and hope that you can share some of that love is one way to intertwine these virtues.  Therefore, to “walk in faith and hope” is to live a life of love.

I like the next line a lot.  “I greet everyone with peace” reminds me to keep smiling.  The easiest way to share a little love is to greet others with a friendly face—nothing too difficult, just a non-judgmental, optimistic smile, wave, or open presence.  This can take a little practice and it’s tough to do on a hectic day, but remembering that you are not the only human on this earth who wants a little love is simple enough.

Sr. Janet had to explain the last line of the credo to me. She told me that to “bring back only what God gives me” is to view life’s experiences as a gift.  We are not meant to gain bitterness, anger, spite, or prejudice from our childhood or any other experience.  Rather, we are meant to move beyond these negative thoughts into the brilliance of happiness, gratitude, patience, wisdom, peace, and ultimately to faith, hope, and love.

With my new wisdom from Sr. Janet and the Pilgrim’s Credo to remind me of all I’ve learned from her, I will walk through the remainder of the school year in faith and hope.

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