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Gliding into Prayer

Gliding into Prayer  by Tom RyanGuest blog by Tom Ryan. Fr. Thomas Ryan, CSP, directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations located in the Hecker Center in Washington, DC. He leads ecumenical retreats and workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. An active contemplative and lover of the outdoors, Tom has authored 14 books on a variety of themes in the spiritual life as well as the DVD Yoga Prayer. www.tomryancsp.org. He is also a member of Shalem’s 40th Anniversary Honorary Council for 40-Hour Contemplative Prayer Vigil.

At the end of every summer, I make an eight-day retreat to my sweet spot on the planet, an island in the middle of Lake George in upstate NY owned by my community, the Paulists, since the early 1860s. There’s a cabin  among the trees , and the island is embraced on both sides of the lake by the forested mountains of Adirondack State Park.  When the Jesuit missionary explorer Isaac Jogues  first descended the lake in a canoe with native Americans, he was so taken by the transcendent beauty of the 32 mile long lake and mountains that he named it Le Lac du Saint Sacrament  (French for: Lake of the Blessed Sacrament). Here is a poem I wrote on my retreat on the island at the end of August.

Glide into Prayer

Every sensory portal is open wide,

and the inner spirit folding in gratitude

for the gentle emanations

of the setting sun slowly baking my skin

for the gurgle of water

licking the rocks at my feet

for the silent embrace

of long, forested mountain arms

for the scintillating scent

of red pine needles overhead

for the exploding wet sweetness

of nectarine juice in my mouth

for the blue, true dream of sky

transforming into pink before my eyes.

Could there be a more pleasing glide into prayer

than on this wave of grateful awe within?

Island 8-26-13

Thomas Ryan, CSP

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