Whispers of Hope & Authenticity

May 26, 2024

This week’s blog post is written by Sr. Sara Dwyer, a regular retreat presenter at the Center. She will be leading a week-long retreat in August and this post is a little snapshot of what the week will hold. There is still an earlybird discount available for any registrations before June 18. You can learn more about the retreat and Sr. Sara by clicking HERE.

Whispers of Grace

I chose “Whispers of Grace” as the title for a weeklong retreat because that’s how I generally experience grace in my life. Grace is the inner whisper encouraging, affirming, guiding, or challenging me. Grace whispers to my heart the unquestionable experiences of God’s Presence as burning bushes, bolt of lights, gentle breezes. These experiences are undeniably intimate to my life stories and faith.

When I was young, I read the Lives of Saints and the Baltimore Catechism and later expanded to certain people I called holy: Anne Frank, Thomas Merton, Dag Hammarskjold. In my 20’s, I was introduced to Teilhard, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr—a Kansan like me!

Then came my first graduate programs and a whole new universe exploded—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I could tell you many funny stories about my struggles in learning to think for myself and critically assessing my faith and beliefs—and what I didn’t believe and WHY. Let me say: God has a sense of humor!

The richness of the Vatican II documents, the four types of Catholic theologies, feminine spirituality, Catholic Social Teaching, and contemplative prayer were as exhilarating as they were frustrating. Trying to let go and lean in, to integrate and appropriate these NEW concepts needed a NEW consciousness that was evolving slowly—often painfully—but steadily.

I learned about the depth and breadth of our Judaic-Christian histories and theologies. My academic challenges were nourished within the framework of my pastoral ministry as an adult faith formator in Colorado and Oklahoma as well as through my international religious community. Various Scripture scholars and ecumenical theologians then opened and stretched me beyond my expectations—and often beyond my comprehension.

With a growing NEW consciousness nudging and pulling me along, my inner journey was evolving. I celebrated faith’s excitement, beauty, and profoundness in a Presence, a relationship with the Holy. Of course, this has been an on-going, sustaining relationship for the last 45 years!

During these years, I’ve studied myths, metaphors, meanings, and mysteries—personally and academically. These concepts have continued to invite me to ponder and explore what attracts, connects, inspires, and sustains me. Now, whether it is praying and studying Amy-Jill Levine or Elizabeth Johnson; Thomas Berry or Brian Swimme; Pema Chodron or Tara Brach; Fr. Richard Rohr or Fr. James Martin; Carl Jung or Ann Belford Ulanov; Brene Brown or Parker Palmer, I sense a freshness and expansiveness that is sacred.

All these experiences have created my life’s story in meaningful ways. I invite you to join me for the Whispers of Grace Retreat at Bon Secours to explore your own sacred life experiences and hopefully make them even more meaningful. Using songs, works of art, movies, books—and the stillness of nature amid the beautiful grounds of Bon Secours—we will set aside time to be attentive to God’s Presence and the encouraging, affirming, guiding, or challenging Whispers of Grace in our lives.