Once again I spend a week of retreat here at Lindenwood in silent contemplation and introspection. Over the past 13 years that I have been coming to Lindenwood for various activities, including retreats and personal spiritual counseling, I have grown both intellectually and spiritually.
The lyrics of an old song - To Sir, With Love - come to mind as I write these words. “How do you thank someone who’s taken you from crayons to perfume.” Though the words do not fit exactly, the sentiment does fit in that words fail to express the level of profound gratitude for the guidance and support provided here.
When I come to Lindenwood I am truly “coming home” for it is here that I have found my tribe.
When I began my spiritual journey at Lindenwood I was still a practicing Registered Nurse. My path of nursing, freely chosen by me, was perhaps one of the more stressful.
Throughout my varied nursing career, I worked as a hospice nurse. I also worked in an infirmary in a penitentiary. These nursing “gigs” were stressful; each in its own unique way. Despite this, I loved being able to serve in milieus that were less popular to other nurses. In fact, the same was thematic of my entire 22-year nursing career. Coming to Lindenwood was a means of de-stressing; unwinding from the pressures of my career.
Later on I was troubled by other things including what I perceived as alienation from family ties. This occurred when I decided to leave nursing and enroll in the university. No one in my family could understand why I would do such a thing; in their words “why would you give up a perfectly good profession (at your age - 62 at the time) to go off on some harebrained scheme to get a degree?” “Aren’t you ever satisfied?”
Alas, no answer would ever satisfy these questions. In fact, I was seeking for another level of fulfillment that had been missing in nursing. My nursing career opened my mind to the reality that there is much more involved with one’s health than only physical manifestations.
Thus, to be brief, these and many other personal troubles were coupled with the ever-present cultural chaos of the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. This was my subject matter when I would come for retreat each time.
Sr. Jeanne Koehler provided spiritual direction through these troubling times and I owe her a debt of gratitude which I can never repay. Through her gentle guidance through Scripture and contemplation, I was able to make sense of the chaos of my life.
Upon Sr. Jeanne’s retirement, Sr. Coletta Wrasman has become my spiritual guide. In her unique way she has “attended” as I poured out my soul. Through her Spirit-guided gentleness I have learned so much that has been meaningful; especially how one can be open to receive without judgement; being there as a still small voice. I equate this guidance to how the Holy Spirit deals with our souls.
Beyond the active Spiritual direction of both Sr. Jeanne and Sr. Coletta, I always felt the presence of the prayers of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. All of Lindenwood, including the marvelous retreat staff, are embraced and influenced by this backdrop of prayer.
Over the years, the staff of Lindenwood have become sisters and brothers to me. They have shared my joys as well as my heartaches. Recently I completed my doctoral degree in sociology; an educational project spanning 7 years during which time I earned a Bachelors, a Masters, and the Ph.D.
Were it not for the influence of Lindenwood and the Poor Handmaids, I doubt that I would have been able to achieve this goal.
Now I find myself at yet another of life’s inevitable turning points and I’ve come home to Lindenwood once again, seeking direction as I embrace a future in keeping with the direction of the Holy Spirit. I have spent my time in quiet reflection and listening in stillness for the still small voice; guiding me ever-onward to my intended mission.
All this being said, how can I find words to express my undying gratitude for the influence of all at Lindenwood. May your Light continue to shine brightly. You touch people in so many ways by your humble Christian example of benevolence for all of God’s creatures; all religions and creeds. You are truly walking in the path of Jesus of Nazareth and I aspire to follow in your (and His) footsteps.
Much love from a “daughter of Lindenwood and the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.”
Dr. Patricia Holland Levasseur