We are formed by environment and grace, by politics and prayer, by church and conscience.
All God’s creatures conspire to teach us as well.
We stumble. We stutter. We rise. We are lifted.
– St Anthony of Padua (Feast Day June 13)
Every other month I drive beneath the tall pines at St. Anthony’s, park in the back, and meet with a group of spiritual directors called the Sacred Huddle. About five years ago I was invited to join with my peers in forming this group. Our intentions, if I remember correctly, were to build relationships of trust and support. We wanted a format loose enough for the Spirit’s movement and tight enough to be respectful of each other. Silence, time for reflection, time to gather and share our stories, time to learn and teach, time to eat, laugh, and grieve, and time to wander the grounds at St. Anthony’s are all a part of our day. Something inside of me has changed, softened through relationships and experiences within our Sacred Huddle.
Sunday is the feast day of St. Anthony. Fernando Martins was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195. Fernando chose the name Anthony when he joined the Franciscan Order. In 1917, after choosing the site that St. Anthony Spirituality Center rests on, the Capuchins chose St. Anthony as patron of their then monastery.
History is documented. But I want to know the deeper story, the story beneath the history. I want to know what moved Anthony to write what he did. What did the Capuchins experience as they walked the property where river and earth meet sky? Tell me about the internal movement that forms and informs.
Sometimes I bring my camera on walks at St. Anthony’s. The camera has become a third eye, capturing in photo form what I sense but cannot grasp, capturing one moment in time, capturing an image I can hold onto as a reminder of what I’ve experienced internally. Without my camera, a similar event happens and happens without my will or intention. Moments and images seep into my mind, body, and psyche. Do we humans naturally store and remember moments in time? How do these experiences and interpersonal relationships form us? Teach us? How malleable are we to the continual changes going on inside of us?
Neuroscience and biology give us clues to brain, body, and memory function. Factual informational and historic records provide us with intellectual knowledge. Philosophers and religion offer questions and perspectives. Artists and writers stir emotion and cause us to ponder. And yet, it is personal participation in life and reflection on life that has the greatest potential to teach and form. And, when we gather together in respect and reverence for one another, our deeper stories unite, blend, transform without ever disturbing the sacred identity of each individual.
What is your deeper story? Where are your sacred huddles?
– Kathy Walczyk