Updated: Jan 27
Walking out of my first meeting as a member of the Jesuit Retreat Board of Directors, I found myself stealing a line from the Talking Heads, “How did I get here?”
In 2011, my mom encouraged me to try a workshop at the Center and, in my typical moderate manner, I dove headfirst into an eight-day silent retreat. Because that amount of quiet was unbelievably terrifying, I arranged for the retreat to last just five of the eight days. That would be five days longer than I had ever spent being alone—and in silence. As a thirty-two year old commercial real estate executive, the thought of being away from my phone even one day seemed insane. Maybe even dangerous. What if someone needed me? What if a deal was closing?
That first retreat was eye-opening in so many ways. Most impactful was being able to experience serenity without all of the stimulus in this world. The words of my spiritual director kept repeating in my mind, “Be contemplative.” It didn’t happen overnight, but by the third or fourth day, sitting quietly on a bench, thinking, writing, reading, praying, I got a glimpse of what it meant to be contemplative.
In the last ten years since my first retreat, we have become even more attached to our all-encompassing smartphones. The stresses and pressures of the world we live in never seem to subside on their own. The need to detach and “be contemplative” is greater than ever. I have attended several other retreats—managing even a full eight days of silence—and have helped Father Andrew lead one in the fall of 2019. Every time I step foot on the property, I’m immediately filled with God’s grace and my heart quiets. The JRC is an amazing treasure where we can reconnect with our heart and soul in an environment that allows for quiet, peace, and reflection.
In November, when I was asked if I had ever considered joining the Board, a lightbulb went off in my head. I’ve consistently had an innate feeling to do more, connect more, with the Retreat Center. Joining the Board of Directors will allow me to stay involved and more importantly, advocate for the longevity and wellness of the Center.
I am very excited to start this journey, and feel honored that the Board has welcomed me. My goal is for the JRC to remain a contemplative space for the many who have already visited and to be a welcoming, nourishing experience for those to come.
Conor is an Executive Managing Director at JLL, a global corporate real estate firm. He lives in Portola Valley with his wife Kelly and two kids, Kogan (9) and Ella (3). In his spare time, he coaches his son Kogan’s little league baseball team and teaches yoga at Yogasource in Palo Alto.