Guest blog by Tom Ryan. Fr. Thomas Ryan, CSP, directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations located in the Hecker Center in Washington, DC. He leads ecumenical retreats and workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. An active contemplative and lover of the outdoors, Tom has authored 14 books on a variety of themes in the spiritual life as well as the DVD Yoga Prayer. www.tomryancsp.org. He is also a member of Shalem’s 40th Anniversary Honorary Council for 40-Hour Contemplative Prayer Vigil.
At the end of every summer, I make an eight-day retreat to my sweet spot on the planet, an island in the middle of Lake George in upstate NY owned by my community, the Paulists, since the early 1860s. There’s a cabin among the trees , and the island is embraced on both sides of the lake by the forested mountains of Adirondack State Park. When the Jesuit missionary explorer Isaac Jogues first descended the lake in a canoe with native Americans, he was so taken by the transcendent beauty of the 32 mile long lake and mountains that he named it Le Lac du Saint Sacrament (French for: Lake of the Blessed Sacrament). Here is a poem I wrote on my retreat on the island at the end of August.
Glide into Prayer
Every sensory portal is open wide,
and the inner spirit folding in gratitude
for the gentle emanations
of the setting sun slowly baking my skin
for the gurgle of water
licking the rocks at my feet
for the silent embrace
of long, forested mountain arms
for the scintillating scent
of red pine needles overhead
for the exploding wet sweetness
of nectarine juice in my mouth
for the blue, true dream of sky
transforming into pink before my eyes.
Could there be a more pleasing glide into prayer
than on this wave of grateful awe within?
Thomas Ryan, CSP