Bethany Retreat is run by the St. Cecilia Dominican Sisters and is located in Dickson, TN and every chance I get, I go. Bethany has been a true blessing, hosting weekend retreats for many of the moms and dads who have children in the Dominican run schools. Since I have a daughter at St. Cecilia Academy and two children at St. Henry School and I am an alumnae of both schools, this past weekend was my 4th time to participate. Some people need to sit and to listen and to pray more than others to "get it". (But let's not point fingers.)
The first time I visited the Retreat House, I spent time in one of the rooms (sister kept referring to them as cells over the weekend, which made us all laugh), snuggling in a glider, covered in a warm, brown, fuzzy blanket, watching the snow fall and listening. The picture on the wall was of Blessed Imelda, patroness of First Communion. At age 9 she went to live with the Dominican Sisters and longed to receive Jesus in the Eucharist but was still too young. She prayed and learned to chant the office and became friends with the saints, preparing for the day she could receive Communion. "And so Imelda continued, with the intensity of a child, to get to know Jesus more deeply, and to desire Him all the more." Since my first visit, I mentioned my desire to be in the "Blessed Imelda" room. The second visit, I was with Our Lady and than the San Damiano Crucifix. Both rooms had meaning for me at the time. But this time, as I walked up the sidewalk, Sr. Mary Ellen greeted me with a smile and "you are in the Blessed Imelda room this time, we made sure." We both laughed. As it was mentioned by the sisters in front of a few other women, I shared a little of the story and asked who was in their rooms. Little by little, reports came in of the beautiful images, reminders, on the walls in the "cells" and the devotions. (I should have asked everyone.)
The weekend was incredible. Spending time with 18 women who share the same community and similar vocations was time well spent. I did nothing but learn from moms who had as many as 8 children to moms who had 1 child. I learned from wives about relationships. Most importantly I learned about mountaintop experiences, about the scene of the Transfiguration, when Peter tells Jesus he'd like to make three tents so that they can stay. And the truth is, we all felt like we would like to stay here at Bethany, with this mountaintop experience. But we were given the tools, and we were being told we needed to go and to spread the good news to our husbands and to our family and to our community, more in the way of example, less in the way of preaching. We must get back to reality and take what we had been given and share it with others. We had spent time listening at the feet of Jesus, we hoped we had "chosen the better part" and now it was time to get back to reality.
When I arrived home, one of the first emails I opened was from a salesperson and it read:
The guys at Tiny Saints are rolling out a "special edition" Bl. Imelda Lambertini charm for 1st Communion season.
Now I ask you, what does this mean? I'm taking it as a sign that my weekend was something I need to seriously review and take to heart, deepening my desire for Jesus. (Or, am I to leave this crazy life and run to the convent?)