Reflections of a Lenten retreat

These are my reflections on a Lenten retreat that Companions of Jesus the Good Shepherd took this spring.

We Companions, isolated by COVID-19, have felt for a year like we’re sitting in the car looking out the passenger side window. As Lent approached, Mary de Sane grabbed the wheel and metaphorically piloted us down the Zoom Interstate, past the airport full of conflicting schedules, and pulled onto the Companion Retreat highway!

The great turnout each Sunday morning and non-judgmental atmosphere easily fostered renewed solidarity and honest sharing with a different Companion acting as our spiritual GPS each week.

We took our mantra from Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister: “Lent is about becoming, doing, and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fulness of life in us right now.”

We journeyed with saints

We journeyed each week with a special saintly person; the first was Thomas Merton who set the focus: “God is everywhere and in everything and we cannot be without God. It is simply impossible.”

In the second week our daily reminder came from Teresa of Avila who encouraged our contemplative practice: “Prayer indicates where growth is needed.”

The next week Theresa Petrachinio, a Companion in Canada, shared about the martyred Archbishop Saint Oscar Romero and his admonition: “The ones who have a voice must speak for those who are voiceless.” Our group reflection broadened the meaning of ‘voiceless’ beyond persons to our Earth itself as we prayed the following week with Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring.

Carson first drew national attention to the destruction of our waterways and natural resources. She advocated for what is now called the scripture of nature. “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

After mentally relaxing with nature, we were confronted with the fearless Sojourner Truth, American abolitionist, escaped slave and advocate of women’s rights who reminded us to (of all things) enjoy the trip!

“If we laugh and sing a little as we fight the good fight of freedom, it makes it all go easier,” Sojourner had said.

Today science has shown there are even 65 animals who laugh including dogs, birds and dolphins. Sojourner was onto something!

Our final friend for the week was the fiery Irish immigrant Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones) who, though old, childless, widowed and financially destitute, nonviolently took on the powerful coal industry. She fought child labor practices and organized labor unions seeking better safety precautions and wages for miners.

Lastly, Mary Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles, was our accompanying spiritual sister as we celebrated with her the good news of Easter.

We returned from our road trip as a group refreshed, renewed, recommitted and ready to joyfully welcome our two new Companions – Patti and Helene, and renew together our own vow(s). The plan is to keep Zooming and next year we hope to add music!

Read more stories about Companions of Jesus the Good Shepherd in the province newsletter Items of Interest.

Joan Clancy

Joan Clancy

With degrees in Medical Records, Gerontology, Psychology and Pastoral Counseling, Joan has worked in varied settings, from the airlines to pharmaceutical research to nursing home social services. After decades on college faculty, she continues a limited MFT practice. Joan encountered Good Shepherd while working as a therapist for CORA Services in Philadelphia. She became a Companion of Jesus the Good Shepherd 20 years ago. She is happily divorced with 4 children and 12 grandkids, and lives in Florida.