Day 10: With Jesus as he quietens the waves

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29 Mar 2020

With Jesus in the Desert’ is an online retreat that has been developed for people who are in social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. It has been designed to run for 14 days, but may be adapted and run as needed.

If you have someone to contact in any way during the retreat to speak about what is happening in your retreat and your day, that could be very helpful. Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Australia can put people in touch with experienced spiritual directors for one-to-one spiritual direction using online platforms such as FaceTime, Skype and Zoom. For enquiries, please contact (02) 9488 4597.

1. Preparation for prayer

Sit or lie comfortably, aware of any tension in neck and shoulders, hands, tightness in the chest and muscles. Allow them to relax. Look around the room and house that are your desert, through the window at the world now closed to you. Allow God to enter the room and your life

2. Ask God for what you want

In a few words or an image, can you express how you are right now? How would you like God to be for you today? Ask God to open your mind and heart to what God wants to give you today.

3. Prayer to introduce day’s theme

Dear Lord, help me to trust in your presence now, and all this day. Believing in your care for me, may I experience your saving help in my time of trouble and fear. May I learn anew that you love to be with me no matter how I am. Amen.

4. Readings

One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they started out. As they were sailing, Jesus fell asleep. Suddenly a strong wind blew down on the lake, and the boat began to fill with water, so that they were all in great danger. The disciples went to Jesus and woke him up, saying, “Master, Master! We are about to die!” Jesus got up and gave an order to the wind and to the stormy water; they quieted down, and there was a great calm. Then he said to the disciples, “Where is your faith?” But they were amazed and afraid, and said to one another, “Who is this man? He gives orders to the winds and waves, and they obey him!” (Luke 8: 22 – 25 NRSV)

Psalm 107 (NRSV)

 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
 for his steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
 those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
 from the east and from the west,
 from the north and from the south.

Some went down to the sea in ships,
 doing business on the mighty waters;
they saw the deeds of the Lord,
 his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
 which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths;
 their courage melted away in their calamity;
they reeled and staggered like drunkards,
 and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
 and he brought them out from their distress;
he made the storm be still,
 and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they had quiet,
 and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
 for his wonderful works to humankind.

6. Reflection

Crossing the lake was not an unusual event for the fishermen (so much so that Jesus felt relaxed enough to sleep), but they were caught off guard by the sudden storm. Despite their line of work the Jewish fishermen were always wary of the water. Water is the element of the original chaos and a memory of the great Flood (it is doubtful they knew how to swim). But how was it that Jesus remained asleep until disturbed by his disciples? What inner peace did he possess?

Haven’t we been caught off guard by this pandemic! Some days it may feel to us as if waves are crashing over us and the boat of our emotional stability will sink. Our responses can range from resignation and depression, through calm optimism, to anger and fear. Have there been other times in your life when you have felt vulnerable and a little (or a lot) afraid? What did you do then? Did you find the resources and support you needed? Did you pray for help?

The disciples probably tried not to wake Jesus (knowing how busy he always was) but eventually they could see that their bailing and rowing was not going to get them out of trouble. Then they didn’t hold back: “Master, we are about to die!” I don’t know what they expected Jesus to do – but not what he did! Jesus – with a miracle that only God could accomplish – spoke to the wind and waves and they diminished in force and died away.

Today many find it hard to believe that God will intervene to change the forces of nature for us, but that does not stop us from praying when floods, drought, fire or cyclones threaten our lives and livelihoods. We can’t tell God exactly what to do but we can offer God some suggestions: to enable us to cope, to help the scientists find a vaccine quickly, to strengthen the body of a loved one who is sick, to give our governments the gift of wisdom and compassion in managing the crisis, to give us a spirit of care for our neighbours and of appreciation for what we still have.

In this moment, can you feel a storm around you? How is it affecting your body, your mind your heart? Can you use your imagination to sense that Jesus is with you, in your home, now? What do you want to say to him? As you listen, what will he do or say in response?

7. Concluding prayer of thanks and praying for other people affected.

Father in heaven, you have promised to be at our side through fire and deep water (Is 43: 1- 5), telling us that we need not be afraid. We can’t help feeling overwhelmed at times like this, but we want to trust your care for us. When we reach out, please take hold of us. As we pray for others in need, please attend to them. Thank you for your promise. Thank you for showing us how much you care for us. Amen.

8. Reflection on prayer: How was I moved?

Spend a few minutes looking back at your prayer. Don’t try to judge whether it was a success or a failure – no attempt to pray is a failure. But recall the places where your heart was stirred – by love, anger, anxiety, and other feelings. Hold those moments out to God. If it is helpful, write them down.


Day 10 – Evening Prayer

1. Become aware of God’s presence.

Look back on the events of this day of self-isolation in the company of the Holy Spirit. Ask God to help you see as God sees.

2. Pay attention to your feelings.

The Spirit of God works in the movements of our hearts. Run through the day like a video camera. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Boredom? Elation? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? Where are these feelings coming from? What is God saying through these feelings? Do they say something about what matters deeply to you?

3. Choose one time when you have felt strongly and live it again.

Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that has struck you: a feeling of love, boredom, irritation, tranquillity or hatred etc. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something, apparently insignificant, but one which touched your heart, such as seeing a flock of galahs turning into the sun. Allow your response to the feeling to flow spontaneously from your heart— whether you feel gratitude, regret, joy or anger.

4. Look toward tomorrow.

Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges of another day in isolation. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey another day in isolation. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask him for help and understanding. Pray for hope and good humour.

5. End with a conversation with Jesus.

Ask for healing, ask his protection and help. Ask for his wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face. Say thanks for the gift of your life and for the gift of the people who love you and those whom you live.

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