This morning I GOOGLED the phrase, “What one book would I want if I were stranded on a desert island” and it came up with 1,940,000 hits. Nearly two million other people have pondered that question as well. I only perused a few of the sites and enjoyed a few answers, my favorite was, “An Idiot’s Guide to Getting off a Deserted Island”. Besides the Bible, I would probably want a James Michener novel such as Centennial.
Some days I think we all would like to be stranded on a deserted island just to escape the busyness of life and the pressure of life off the island. I guess this accounts for the popularity of island vacation get-a-ways. The Church has always taught that it is a good practice to occasionally get away from everything around us to better focus ourselves on God; to retreat from daily life for an extra-ordinary experience of God’s love. We learn from these retreat times and clear our minds to see the things of God in a deeper and more personal and profound way. These are times of learning.
Of course, we don’t have to physically go somewhere to retreat; it is easy to take a short retreat several times during the day and create our own desert island experience using our imagination. St. Ignatius Loyola taught his followers to use their senses imaginatively in order to enter into special prayer experiences, especially using stories from Scripture. Ignatius would ask, “What do you feel? See? Taste? Smell? Hear?” And once you are comfortably present to your imagination, image Jesus there with you. What does he look like? What does He say to you? We can learn quite a bit about Jesus’ love for us on one of these mini “retreats”.
This edition of our Priests for Tomorrow Newsletter asks two questions: First, what book, besides the Bible, would you take with you on a deserted island? And second, what was one thing you learned today? In Scripture, Jesus encourages us to spend time with Him as He says, “Come me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest.” On second thought, maybe the only book I would want if I were stranded on a deserted island would be the Bible. I just learned that would be enough for me.