Paul Kline (pictured here with Br. Joe Kotula) reflects on his time at the Mountain as a summer companion
As is true for so many others, the Mountain has been a vital part of the story of my adult spiritual journey. I have taken the drive from Boston to Friendship many times to enjoy a few days of rest and renewal. A weekend of Mountain prayer, Mountain air and Mountain hospitality is a wonderful tonic for a wounded spirit!
There have been two summers in recent years when the Mountain community has welcomed me for a longer stay as a Mountain companion. Working, walking, praying, laughing and living alongside the friars for an extended period of time has blessed me with the precious gift of their love, support and friendship. It has also provided me with opportunities to meet and learn from the stories shared by the wonderfully diverse group of travelers who make their way from the valley of their everyday lives who are eager, like me, to spend a little time resting on the Mountain. Most importantly, living at the Mountain as a summer companion has provided me a place and time to not only step away from the pressures and hard edges of the outside world but to also let go of the inner resistances and hesitations that keep me distant from my God’s embrace.
My experience as a Mountain summer companion has helped me to say “yes” to Jesus’ invitation to set sail into deeper waters. My time as a summer companion has been time spent in deeper waters. Deep water is far from the noise of the shore. It is mysterious and wonderful. Resting in deep water is a pleasantly disorienting experience where familiar signposts and markers are missing. Deep water is a place of exquisite stillness where one can hear the quiet whisper of Holy Wisdom. A journey into deep water is a journey into the heart of God. With the Mountain community as friends and guides, my experience as a summer companion has helped me to find freedom from the thorny and tangled spiritual knots that once felt impossible for me to untie.
The mission and ministry of Mt. Irenaeus is described as joining with Christ in making all things new. Living for an extended time within the peace and prayerful rhythm of Mountain life has helped me to see that God has not finished with me. I, too, am called to a new life of freedom from regrets about yesterday and anxieties about tomorrow. I, too, am called to a new life of interior peace. I, too, am called to a new life of gratitude and joy. I carried these discoveries with me as summer ended and I returned to the valley of my life. I carry them with me now as I write these words, my heart filled with gratitude to the Mountain community for welcoming me as their summer companion.