Fr. John Murray, SJ
"Be still and know that I am God." —Psalm 46
When people ask me; “what is it like to be a spiritual director?’ I always respond the same. Being a spiritual director is to be more a companion on the journey, than a person who has the answers to another’s concerns.
My life at Eastern Point Retreat House is a wild mixture of listening, companioning and managing a good size inn! Looking out each morning to the Atlantic Ocean’s constant gift of first light, I am swept up in the grandeur of God’s creation in every season. The day is always full with the most blessed work I have had in my 35 years as a Jesuit. I love the rhythm of the tides, the sky and the unfathomable power of God’s grace among the retreatants’ days of prayer.
People travel to Gloucester burdened with incredible demands as church people, as lay people, as people on pilgrimage. Seeking the face of God is not for the faint of heart. With our staff of Jesuits and guest directors, we listen, and focus, and shine some light into darkened hearts. And when people slow down…..look out! God’s slow work of molding our human hearts is a unique happening; sometimes with the Holy Word; but just as often with the Holy Silence. The deep whisperings begin to emerge to each pilgrim and the wonders to behold are indeed awesome!
Managing a retreat house is also a great challenge and a great joy. Our support staff of ten people is small, but mighty. As with so many retreat houses we are in constant need of physical updates and upgrades to provide the quality experience that people have come to appreciate at Eastern Point. So I am called upon more and more to do the necessary fund-raising to make ends meet and to plan for future major improvements to our buildings and grounds. This is no small task. Relying on God’s goodness and patience and seeking out generous benefactors is an ongoing process. We hope to mount a major capital campaign in a couple of years with a goal of twenty-five million dollars! You can bet I am always fixed on the horizon looking for that special ship to come in.
As I reflect on my years as a Jesuit; high school work, then principal, then socius and now as a retreat director, I marvel at how Jesus has become my true love and friend. In looking at my story of self-discovery and prayer, I find myself drawn back to the place I started, Psalm 139. Jesus knows me through and through, even when I resist and complain and gripe. Jesus has knit me together in every way, loving me as a sinner and teaching me as his son to trust the slow work of God. He rejoices in my quirkiness; my attention to details; my desire to listen deeply to all the people he sends me in retreat work.
A vocation is like a very long dance! Dancing is best with a partner, for me. Though I don’t do much actual dancing these days, in my prayer I feel called constantly to feel Jesus hold me, calm me and whisper; ‘may I lead?’