Monday, December 18, 2006

Back to base!

A retreat is a wonderful opportunity, but as almost all good things come to an end, so do retreats. I’ve now been back in Rome for approximately 8 hours. My bed is loaded high with the remains of the unpacking, but it will have to have ‘something’ done to it before tonight or I can’t go to bed. Normality…if the last few days before Christmas can be called normality, beckons urgently, which means a return to work tomorrow.

I don’t normally manage to return to England for my retreat, but unusually cheap fares gave me such a blessing this year, which also made it possible to return to the wonderful Franciscan friary in Pantasaph in North Wales. Not many people can legitimately claim to be associated with a place since before they were born, but my links with Pantasaph were forged when my parents went there for a day of recollection and prayed that ‘Terence Michael’ would be a priest and a Franciscan. Well, I turned out to be a girl, have not achieved ordination, but still ended up as a Franciscan.

These days, as well as being a Retreat centre, Pantasaph is also the national shrine of Padre Pio for England and Wales. What a place to have such a shrine, with views of the Welsh mountains on one side and Liverpool Bay on the other! It’s more than worth a visit.

It seems to me that Christmas is a wonderful time of the year for getting back in touch with one’s roots. After all, the conception and birth of one little baby, 2000 years ago, is the absolute bedrock of Christianity. When our increasingly secular society tries to change Christmas into Winterval or Chrimbo and sends ‘Seasons Greetings’ and ‘Happy Holiday’ greetings, it misses out, not only on the incredible idea that God could become a simple human baby, it also misses out on all the joy that is associated with Christmas. The word ‘Winterval’ reminds me of ‘interval’. Well, we all need an interval in which to wonder at the Christmas message.

If you are as busy as I am expecting to be for the rest of this week, do make a tiny ‘interval’ for yourself and the Baby who is waiting to be born in your heart.

God bless,
Sr. Janet