Reflections from Bishop John Bauerschmidt
One of the formative experiences of my life took place in the summer before my final year in seminary, when I made a retreat at an Episcopal religious community. I had been on retreat before, while in college and seminary, but I had never before been on a private, directed retreat. A basic component of this sort of retreat is to spend time each day in meditative prayer, and also to discuss what took place in the prayer time with an experienced guide, who can help our reflection on our prayer and direct us to other Scripture that might speak to us.
It might sound exotic to you if you’ve not done this before, but for me it was the opening of a new door in relationship with God. I say “relationship” because I discovered prayer as conversation with God, a two way conversation in which God really spoke (through the Scriptures and the guidance I received). Believe it or not, it is possible to almost complete one’s theological education without having a lively conversation with God, without really listening to what Jesus was saying! Beginning to do so was a life-changing experience, which I am still attempting to understand more fully.
Deepening our prayer is a part of our Lenten discipline as a community; my own experience has left me with the conviction that God still speaks if we will be still and listen. Many of us have experience of directed retreats; others of us need to make time once again for the silence in which God can renew his relationship with us. I commend to you the opportunities we have for focused prayer as a diocese, especially the Quiet Day to be held at Diocesan House on March 18. What a blessing it is to focus for a moment, and to have the opportunity to take stock of what’s happening is our relationship with God.