Memory is such a key element to the spiritual life. We draw on memories to reconnect us with God in our prayers, to take us back to that place where we discovered Him, or to that moment when we felt the most peace.
Lately this interesting trend known as "Throwback Thursday" of posting old pictures on Instagram or Facebook has been fun because for each of us old pictures remind us of joyful or simpler times when we were younger. Pictures have a way of taking us back to that exact moment to remember how we felt, what we were doing, and more often asking the question: "What were we thinking?"
So it is with the spiritual life. There's a picture that I draw on constantly for inspiration and serves as the background of my Twitter page. It's a picture that I took on the canonical retreat that I attended two months before being ordained a priest. My classmates and I traveled up to Marywood Retreat Center on the St. John's River just northwest of St. Augustine. It is a beautiful setting for a retreat. It was also early March and ridiculously cold for Florida that week. The St. John's is a wide river, even wider than Biscayne Bay at some points from what I saw. Each night we were treated to some spectacular sunsets out on a pier that extended about 50 yards from the shore. The last morning we were there, there was a dense fog that covered the retreat house. I felt an incredible peace after going through a beautiful five days of retreat in preparation for my ordination. I walked out to the pier very early that morning and snapped the picture below. The St. John's River is the combination of fresh water and salt water and usually very brownish and at times murky, but that morning it was as still and as blue as the deep waters of the Atlantic. I sat there on the pier for some time feeling God's strength fill me up as I prepared for this great adventure of priesthood. Any doubts I had were long gone. It was if the waters were telling me that there was smooth sailing ahead. Obviously, over the last 11 years since I took this picture, the waters have not always been this smooth or this serene, but just looking back at this picture takes me back to that moment right before the dawn of my priesthood where I felt the peace and the strength to take on the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Throwback Thursday indeed.