Starting Point
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Issue Date:  May 13, 2005

Starting Point


I felt compelled to retreat to Canada soon after Inauguration Day. I had been shaken by news images of a child in Iraq, screaming and covered in her parents’ blood, after they were shot as a result of action initiated by the current political administrators in the country that I love. I needed a break from the United States of America. I needed to rest for a while in a residence where a flag other than my own flew overhead. I needed to be washed clean by the cool mist of the thundering Niagara. I needed to get the blood off and prepare for four more years.

The Niagara River and falls became a metaphor for God during my retreat. In my room at Mount Carmel Spiritual Center, I could hear the roar of the waters even with my window closed. It was a constant presence. I felt I was resting near the heartbeat of God.

Each afternoon, I went on a pilgrimage to the falls, the fountain of life. I would meet people there smiling, enthralled, ecstatic, enraptured! I was too, and often spoke to those around me. They would respond in French, Japanese, Arabic and Russian. In whatever language, we all understood that we were on sacred ground. We all heard the message of life, love, power and beauty. God’s creation is truly awesome and wonderful.

I didn’t expect Pentecost in early February.

My retreat over, I crossed the Peace Bridge back into the United States with hope. I had discovered that the Heavenly Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, is rushing about all around us. She is calling us to unity, letting us know how we should behave toward each other. This is Pentecost! Turn off the noise and put your guard down. Listen.

Ed Horvat, a secular Franciscan, writes from Morgantown, W.Va.

National Catholic Reporter, May 13, 2005

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