When I was growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, every month a children’s magazine would arrive for us to read. The September and October issues were always filled with illustrations of brightly colored autumn leaves, and then a transition in the following months would yield snow scenes and bare trees, followed months later with flowering bulbs and fruit trees and, finally, the summer issues would have green fields and trees filled with ripening fruit. The magazine reminded us month by month that we lived in a desert and not in the temperate East and Midwest.
Winter is just about on us here at the Retreat Center and we are definitely not in a New England weather pattern. That means the hillsides are almost iridescent green after the monochromatic brown of summer and fall, carpets of red leaves are finally falling from the trees and rain, fog and mist hang in the air. It is wonderful to live in California where the New Year shows new life from January 1 all the way to May.
As I watch groups of retreatants come and go, walking the paths, delighting in catching a glimpse of the deer, or sitting quietly at one of our outdoor shrines, I sense new life flowing from this place into their lives. I am reminded of a quotation attributed to Rumi: “Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.” God speaks the beautiful language of silence so clearly here.
In the midst of this new life, we also celebrate the Word made Flesh at Christmas. His new life, his language of love spoken without words as all babies do, his birth in hope fill our December days with light. May you have time for silence, for contemplating the newborn Word and for celebrating our new life in the Lord!
Fr. John Auther, SJ is a Jesuit for 42 years and a priest for almost 30 years. In his pastoral ministry he has devoted a good deal of time to Spanish-speaking work, detention facilities and retreats. He began working at JRC in January 2020.