The best laid plans of mice and nuns…

I don’t know if my plans for blogging over the summer were well laid, but they were certainly disrupted. Which is why I’m only getting back to my blog now. I’d hoped to do some movie commentaries and a mini photo-blog of my annual retreat, but didn’t get to either.

I’ve also been away from writing for six weeks, and now that I’m home, I have mixed feelings about getting back to writing. I simultaneously can’t wait and am a bit nervous, since it’s never easy for me to slip back into a writing routine or a writing flow. This blog entry is my first step…

My retreat this year was my second cinema divina retreat, which is based on the lectio divina way of praying. In cinema divina, you choose to pray with the Scriptures through the lens of a carefully chosen film that highlights the Scriptural themes.

A small group of sisters made the retreat from July 31-August 7; and each day’s theme was the Scripture readings for the Mass of the day. The films we watched were very powerful and well-matched with the readings.

Places in the Heart is a film I’ve seen many times, but it so resonates with the theme of trusting in God.

Marvin’s Room is a favorite of mine. Although the retreat directors intended it to be about healing, for me it is more about love.

Henry Poole Is Here is a film about struggling with faith in the desert.

Bagdad Cafe is another film about the desert, but it’s also about the transformation that can come in a community.

The Son is hard to watch in places, but is a very powerful Belgian film (French with English subtitles) about the consequences of one’s actions and forgiveness.

Departures, a Japanese film with English subtitles, was my favorite film of the retreat. I have never seen a film that deals so graciously with death and compassion.

The theme that stood out for me through all the films was that of transformation. Each film became a metaphor for me about my own transformation, from my ego-centered self to a person centered ever more on Christ. This transformation lies at the heart of our Pauline spirituality, and it is ongoing. We can each always become more Christ-like.

In the films, some of the transformations were dramatic and some were subtle. But every character who grew made a choice to risk, to change, to grow. And every character also resisted their transformation at some point. It was a very rich retreat and just what I needed to reflect on my own journey of “transformation in Christ.”

The highlight of my time away was the Jubilee celebration of seven of our sisters. It was a beautiful time to celebrate God’s fidelity and the gifts that these sisters have been in the Church and in the world.

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