Monday, February 18, 2008

A quiet weekend

So, instead of doing homework, my JVC application, or my job, this weekend (Friday afternoon through this afternoon, Monday), I went on the Ignatian Silent Retreat offered through University Ministry. While I am not always impressed with the practices of UM, I've done this retreat before and loved it, and I was not disappointed. The retreat was at the lovely El Retiro Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos, CA. Unfortunately I didn't take my camera, but you can take my word for it that it was beautiful (well, the parts where I couldn't see freeways, rich people's ugly houses, or the Palo Alto skyline). I saw deer and a little lizard, which was exciting.

Here are four things I got out of it (in order of importance):

1. A deepened faith and relationship with God.
2. The liberation of silence.
3. Lots and lots of sleep.
4. Dessert with every meal. Seriously. The food was delicious.

Number 2 might need some explanation. For me, silence is/can be liberation for the mind. I spend too much time thinking about what other people are thinking, especially how they think of me, whether what I just said was stupid or annoying, or maybe it was witty or insightful. I'm not saying that thinking about other people is bad, and I'm not saying listening to what other people have to say is bad. I wouldn't want to be silent forever, but it's freeing to be released from the pressure of conversation and social interaction.

This is a random note, but I managed to start out a retreat that is all about Jesuit-ness with a little rant about the Jesuits (this was before we went into silence). We were saying that the Jesuits know how to take care of you, and take pretty good care of themselves too. One woman said she had been to the Jesuit residence at Santa Clara University, and they have a freezer filled with those little individual-size Ben and Jerry's ice creams. I couldn't restrain myself and said I had some issues with how the Jesuits choose to use their resources. Maybe I said it a little harsher than that, but I implied/stated that it was not in alignment with their values of social justice. I think my table-mates got a little scared. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) this was not in front of any of the present Jesuits. There are many good things about the Jesuits, but "vow of poverty" is not one of their strengths. They're good people, but they have some things they could work on.

At the end of the retreat I got some St. Ignatius bling. Woo! Here are pictures with and without flash. They don't show the size, but you can take my word for it that it is one and a half inches across (I promise I do have better things to do than measure medallions, but, you know, the world wants to know).

Fun fact: Before he was St. Ignatius, he was Íñigo Oñaz López de Loyola

On an unrelated note, don't read The Secret History of the English Language, says the Language Log, which knows what it's talking about.

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