What to Expect

In the early days of Mt. Irenaeus, the late Fr. Joe Doino, OFM, wrote a few simple guidelines for everyone to consider when visiting the Mountain to help focus prayer, meditation, location, nature and more.

We invite you to take time with these “guidelines” either before, during or after your time with us. If you’re staying with us, you may have seen these guidelines in your room or cabin. Use these at the Mountain or even in your own community while you’re out on a walk or in meditation.

 

TAKE A WALK ALONE

Take a walk alone for an hour or so. As you walk, begin to take note that you are here and not elsewhere – not in your usual “place.” You are here in special surroundings for a special purpose. What is different about this special place? Name the differences. Reflect upon them.

 

LOOK AROUND YOU

Look around you – no rows of houses, no malls, no high-rises, no traffic. Is this unsettling, strange, lonely, confusing? What do you see? Look at the forests — the extent of them, the variety of colors, of trees, of shapes, of sizes, of foliage.

Look close up: look to the horizons. Look at the hills and valleys, the contours of the land. Look at the flowers – their colors, their variety, their size and shape. Look at the grass; at the sky.

When was the last time you stopped to really look – to look at an acorn, a blade of grass – and celebrate nature, not as nature, but as creation? Creation: being sustained in existence and beauty by the loving will of God who in the love of the spirit creates all through and for Christ Jesus.

What is different about seeing beauty, harmony, order as related to the Eternal Son of God?

 

LISTEN TO THE SOUNDS

As you have been walking … and looking … there have been sounds all about you.

Stop from everything and simply listen.

Listen to all the sounds: then pick out individual sounds – birds, bugs, wind, plane, people’s voices, whatever. Listen to the variety, the individuality of each sound. Listen to the symphony. Don’t rush.

Spend time listening.

How closely can you listen, how attentively, with what concentration? What difference does this make to listen in this way? What does it tell you about your usual way of listening – to nature, to people, to yourself? Isn’t it wonderful to listen and to know that you are listening and that this is a peculiarly wonderful human gift?

 

FEEL THE GROUND BENEATH YOUR FEET

Feel the ground beneath your feet. Weight, gravity, standing erect – all are gifts. Notice the air, the breeze. Touch a branch, a twig, pick a blade of grass, touch your face. Have you ever reflected on the gift of touch – the touches of care and love you have experienced and continue to experience in your life? Think of the touches of love when you were an infant, a child, an adolescent, an adult.

 

WHAT DO YOU SMELL?

What do you smell – clean air, pine trees, an “outdoor” aroma? Think of the uniqueness of the various aromas emanating from flowers, food, etc. Think of the delicious smells of your favorite kitchen – fresh bread, favorite dishes.

What do you smell – clean air, pine trees, an “outdoor” aroma? Think of the uniqueness of the various aromas emanating from flowers, food, etc. Think of the delicious smells of your favorite kitchen – fresh bread, favorite dishes.

 

EXPERIENCE TASTE

Keep walking. Get a little tired, thirsty. Experience thirst. Imagine a glass of refreshing spring water, the taste of fresh berries. Homemade bread. Let your hunger, your thirst awaken your sense of taste. Think of the many wonderful tastes that you experience, especially your favorite ones. Isn’t taste a remarkable experience? How selective we can be in our tastes!

 

LET GRATITUDE WELL UP

What thoughts have been awakened as you walk along, have been trying to break into your stream of consciousness? What people of your memory have filtered through and seem to demand grateful attention? Loved ones, relatives, friends?

Let gratitude well up: but be grateful first of all to God. For, He brought you here – to this place, at this time, for this experience. For all eternity He has singled you out to give you more to awaken you to the gift of Himself deep within. The Father sees and holds you in His Son through the love of the Holy Spirit. You are His dwelling place. Remove all thoughts but gratitude. Let words and thoughts of gratitude well up: let tears well up: let joy well up, admiration, wonderment, awe.

Stop thinking: simply let Him give – give Himself. Let Him love you as He desires, as is His nature. Experience the “peace that surpasses all understanding.”

 

CHOOSING A PATH

Have you been following a path – a path already marked out for you? Did you have any thoughts about where this path might lead? Was there some insecurity about where you might end up? Did you think you were absolutely alone on this path? In a sense, while it may have been marked out by others, didn’t it seem like it was peculiarly you who were making the path for the first time? The unknown, the wonderment, the insecurity — a concentration of the journey of life, and of faith.

What did you feel when you came “home,” when the journey ended in security?

Think about the path you are taking in life. Your Christian path, your human path, your vocational path. Have you taken these for granted as perhaps you took for granted the path that you have followed here at Mt. Irenaeus?

Let your gratitude well up as you think of the privileged journey that you awaken to each day.

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