by Sister Mary Beth Moore
Just days before my “official” retreat began, I had the gift of participating in “Rivers of Hope,” a dialogue set up by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to support sisters all over the country who work with immigrants. Our virtual meeting began with a song by a popular Argentinian singer.
“Who said that everything is lost? I come to offer my heart.
So much blood swept away by the river—I come to offer my heart.”
The lyrics meander, but the short phrase repeats again and again in a haunting minor key. “I come to offer my heart.” The context is the pandemic, the ministry is accompanying a community who is left out of every form of economic redress, whose rate of infection soars above the general population. As my retreat began the song became both a challenge and a deep consolation. What does it mean to offer one’s heart?
The gift of retreat was that I didn’t have to “work” with these words, figure them out, or construct resolutions and plans of action. Instead, I listened to the song and sang it day and night, and was never bored. I walked on the beach and sang to the waves one dark cloudy day when I was the only one on the shore. (One can do worse than stay home in the Hamptons for retreat. I rent a small studio: a half mile from the bay, three miles from the ocean.) I sat on a bench in the public park just across the street from my office. The bench curved at just the proper angle for my back. I faced the trees and listened to them praising God as they swayed in the wind. I biked on a shady road dappled by sunlight. I visited an exquisite garden, where a dizzying variety of trees and shrubs created a tapestry in multiple shades of green.
As is customary in a directed retreat, I met each morning with my director–remotely. A few days in, she suggested that those words, “I come to offer my heart,” were what God might be saying to me. Of course, the offering of the heart is the basis of any intimate relationship. Jesus’ ministry is the very incarnation of this offer. For me, this simple, popular song focused the message anew, in a tender direct way.
I am sure the sisters and friends of the congregation who read this can reference their own unique, intimate relationship with God. There is no need for me to say more. I close with a quote from a spiritual master, Teresa of Avila, our friend in the communion of saints. “However softly we speak, [God] is near enough to hear us. Neither is there any need for wings to go to find [God]. All one need do is to go into solitude and look at [God] within oneself…”