With the passing of time I realize more and more that prayer is an inner journey which can neither be taken for granted, nor accomplished once for all: the silence kept in daily life has always to face the challenge of internal and external distractions. That is why, often I come to the eve of the annual retreat with a burning wish and plenty of expectations … thirsty: “my soul thirst for you, O Lord, like a dry weary land without water” (Sl 62). However, such wish strongly contradicts the experience at the beginning of the retreat when silence and prayer seem to vanish, while a whirlwind of thoughts and distractions take over!
In Sancey, nature taught me, once more, that the key-word is: patience! The arid soil does not want for a flood … it would become only mud, it needs to take in the water, drop after drop, gently and slowly: in the same way we enter silence slowly! As well as the sun rises and goes down slowly and the water of the Baume runs swiftly, one can walk slowly along the path of this wonderful village, walking and walking, … breathing slowly, listening to cicadas, nightingales and blackbirds … and also to some crows! While looking at small hawks, swallows, dragonflies and butterflies, smiling at the pasturing cows, and contemplating the colours of nature, this year I experienced, as never beforehand the power of beauty in leading my soul into prayer … simply letting beauty pray in me, letting myself be carried away by what surrounded me and be taken to the encounter with the One who is the Creator of Beauty and who has a beautiful Word to say to my life to give it new life and transform it!
This gift was enriched by the memory of Jeanne Antide: I could not help think that she walked on the same paths, sometimes secretly and facing dangers, that she worked in these meadows and fields, that she breathed in all this silence and these colours through which she discovered God as a provident Father and learned to pray to Him with trust! I imagined her like a young girl becoming an industrious and hardworking woman, yet not too hectically busy … because even when there is a lot of work nature keeps its pace … which must be respected!
Then, especially before the statue of her tenderly holding a child, and again before the fireplace which speaks of family and daily life I asked for the gift of walking like her on the roads of the world where in spite of all ugliness Beauty still prevails … and certainly will draw all to itself!
Sr Melania Gramuglia