Recently I've been thinking about past retreats. It used to be that I made a silent retreat for 3 days out at Montserrat every year for about 10 years. It's been quite a while now since I've been there.
When my mother moved in with us (1994), I tried to get her to accompany me thinking she would enjoy the retreat also... didn't happen. Mom was a wonderful woman, but she was never fond of being 'out in nature' and the retreat house was out among trees and a lake. Also being 'silent' was almost if not completely impossible for her. And lastly one is expected to spend time 'alone' on a retreat so that communication from within is possible without distraction. (I loved this part). Mama didn't ever enjoy being alone. She wanted to be with me and she wanted to talk. So, it soon became obvious that retreats were a thing of the past.
Now that my mom herself has past (going on 5 years now), I could start going again. But so much time has gone by, that I'm not sure if I would still enjoy it.
I think that this reflection on past retreats came about due to a recent visit with my childhood best friend who has moved into our area. We grew up together on the same block, went to grammar school and high school together and even went off to college (LSU) together. Then we both married (were in each other's weddings), and moved away to start our families. We've kept in touch over the years, but only occasionally. And we have seen each other for lunch if we were ever in the same town. But now, almost 50 years later, we are again living in the same place.
Are we the same people anymore? I mean, after all those years, who we were then is probably not who we are now. But after having coffee and a long talk yesterday, I would have to say that we really haven't changed that much. And I find that I still care for her as I always did. It's a nice feeling.
Maybe it's this 'age thing' or maybe it's just melancholy, but it seems to me that we ought not to let our friendships slip away. And just possibly it's a 'woman's thing'. Women need men - true. But I find that women need other women more. Why? I'm not sure, but maybe because (from my own experience) men may provide the financial security, but women provide the emotional security. And who's to provide the emotional security for the woman - but other women.
I've lost my mom, dad, sister, and brother over the years. About 2 years ago, I lost a dear friend. You would think that as we get older, we would be stronger, but it seems to me that as we get older, each loss hurts more. And when we start anticipating future losses, it's almost unbearable. So what do we do?
I know the most likely answer... *appreciate what we have now*... thank God (or whatever Source you wish) for each day. However, it's easy to say, not so easy to do. I'm thinking that we actually have to work at it... make ourselves aware and choose joy on a daily basis... like the saying, "Beyond the gloom of this world lies joy, take joy!" I do. I will. I'll try...