(Bro. John at Bandelier National Park)
May God give you peace.
I recently completed the 100-day sabbatical program at Sangre de Cristo Center in New Mexico. It was a wonderful, growth-filled experience for which I am very grateful to the province. Sadly, our group, the 100th session, was the last as it seems as the declining number of religious make it difficult for the program to continue.
Twenty men and women from nine countries and a variety of communities, including six Franciscans, participated. Each of us chose one of the four spiritual directors on staff to meet with every week. The first half of the program focused on the inner journey and consisted of classes on prayer, journaling, transitions, sexuality and the enneagram. The second half moved us into the outer journey of discipleship, religious life, care for creation and ministry. In between was an eight-day silent retreat with extended homilies at Mass by a Passionist priest from the Arlington Diocese.
I really appreciated the balance of opportunities to delve deeper into the spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of life. We were given solid blocks of time for prayer, including “desert days” of quiet every Thursday. We shared input from classes and reflections on our journey in small groups and lived community through planning prayer and Eucharist, doing community service around the house and occasionally cooking. There was also time to hike in the beautiful mountains and go into nearby Santa Fe with its history and art. Arts and crafts, group exercise and massage were also available.
In the 100 days I had time to look at my life and assess many of my ways of thinking and behaving, my giftedness and limitedness. That was both affirming and challenging. I realized how important a balanced life and being connected to creation is for me. Above all, I know a little deeper in my heart how much God loves me.
– Bro. John Kerr, T.O.R.