Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Being thankful for the dark times

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A thanksgiving retreat

We had a retreat on thankfulness this Mon-Wed of this week (2016).  This time of the year the number is usually small; we had five participants.  Usually we have larger groups.  I do like the smaller ones however.  When I started off the discussion, I reminded the group that when thinking about ones life and being thankful, we are also led to those times when we struggled and perhaps failed in a major way and in the end we find ourselves being thankful for everything in our lives.  That is one of the great gifts in aging, this ability to look back and see how one was lead even when not in conscious relationship with God.

We had some powerful sharing, each had quite a bit of trauma from their past.  Yet they have discovered that even when things were the darkest, in looking back they can see how the Lord worked in their lives.  There was sexual abuse, physical trauma, serious life threatening addictions, yet each as they relating their experience ended up being thankful for what they had to go through to get to were they were at.  What they went through was not willed by God, yet God who meets us wherever we are can bring healing and good out of any situation. 

In judging we deny others to walk the path they need to travel in order to find the Lord.  To share ones faith in a respectful manner and to let it go, is a great act of faith in the workings of the Holy Spirit, to water that seed and bring it to new life at the right time.  I believe that we should carry in our hearts all those we meet, to pray for them always, and trust in the Lords mercy, the same mercy he has shown all of us. 

One woman shared how one night she walked out to look at the moon.  She had a drink in one had and a smoke in the other.  Suddenly she felt a hand on her forehead and a voice telling her to stop doing this to herself.  She was healed and is now a deeply devout Christian woman.  Yes the free gift of grace, she had like St. Paul, a Damascus moment.

In the Letter of 1st Peter, he talks about Christians being a priestly people and so we are.  We are called to pray and lift up all and to in a special way to never forgot those we have spoken to or met, we are all used by the Lord in ways that in the future we will be amazed and thankful.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.--1 Peter 2:9

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