Thank you everyone for your prayers for my retreat. I'm back and moved into a new friary, with several other transitions to go. But how can I complain? I'm supposed to be an itinerant and a mendicant. Francis was fond of a brother who refused to live more than a month in one place. After a month he would get up and go, saying, "Our home is not here, but in heaven."
I worked a lot on retreat with Jacob's encounter with the Angel of the Lord in Genesis 32. I reflected on its nature as a model for prayer. "Some man," who turns out to be the angel, or the presence of God, approaches Jacob when he is alone at night. They struggle, or wrestle, until dawn. In the same way I've often experienced prayer as an obscure and mysterious encounter initiated from somewhere, I know not where.
In the end Jacob demands two things from the angel of the Lord, but only gets half of what we wants. He demands a blessing and receives his new name, Israel, and thus his new vocation. He asks to know the name of the one with whom we has been struggling, and doesn't get it. To me it speaks of the fruits of prayer. Through prayer we can receive discernment of our next step and something we call our vocation in the Lord. But when we hope to penetrate the mystery of the One with whom we struggle, the obscure presence of God only retreats further. We're left with great blessings, but also the frustration of feeling that we know less about who God is than when we started.
Of course there are other famous details in the story, but I didn't have any inspirations about their meaning for me.
Enjoy the feast of the Assumption today. If anything, it's a beautiful affirmation of the blessed possibilities of our bodily existence.