Did it ever occur to you, that for many of us, the closer we get to dying, the harder it is to genuflect? Is that fair? Seems like it could have been worked out. Let the rest of the body go to hell but keep that ability to genuflect, right up to the end.
Last Thursday I went on a retreat. The Jesuits have this retreat house south of St. Louis. It sits on a cliff high above the Mississippi. I’ve gone there maybe half a dozen times. The sunrises are something special. The best thing about the retreats, though, is the retreatants can’t talk to each other. So, I don’t mind driving an hour to be with seventy guys I can’t talk to.
Jesuits go to more school than most other orders. That should make them smart. I thought maybe I could talk to one about genuflecting in the one-on-one sessions they have where you can talk.
Anyway, I arrived at the retreat house Thursday evening. The priest conducting the retreat gives ten presentations. He can talk because he’s a priest. Anyway, he says the retreat is going be centered on “The Serenity Prayer.” I thought okay. What I was looking for was some serenity about how hard it had gotten for me to genuflect, and since I was aging, I was concerned. I mean, you can only carry this aging thing so far.
Maybe I should explain my problem. My right leg is shorter than the other one on the port side. How much shorter? Well, I took a copy of “The Happy Life of Preston Katt,” put it on the floor, and stood with my right foot on it. A novella was not going to cut it. The thickest book I wrote was “The Ensign Locker.” I stood on it. Still not enough. “The New American Bible” is some half an inch thicker still, so I stood on it. Voila! I was a flatlander. I briefly considered going to the retreat with the Bible duct-taped to my foot, but as soon as I had the thought, I had a vision of a scene from the movie “The Mission.” In the scene, South American Indians take a missionary priest and crucify him and then throw the crucifix, with him on it, into a river. The Jesuits have a river. They have big crucifixes. I decided walking on the Bible might not be a good idea. They may have seen that movie.
So, anyway, back to my legs, what’s happened as I’ve aged, my flatlander muscles have gotten screwed up some by me, in effect, standing on the side of a mountain. I can walk. I don’t know what I look like, but it doesn’t hurt. I can chop a stump out of the ground. Probably not as big as the one Shane and Joe Start dug up, but a sort of big one. I can climb a ladder. Actually, I can’t because the Boss of Everything says, “Nuh-uh.” The other thing I can’t do is genuflect properly.
So, anyway, back to the retreat. I go into the first presentation Thursday night, and the priest says all ten of his talks are going to be based on The Serenity Prayer. That’s the one that starts with asking for the serenity to accept the things you cannot change. Half way through the prayer, there’s this line: “Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.”
That’s it! It’s the same as saying: “Suck it up;” “Get over it;” “Don’t be such a sissy;” “It’s not bleeding much. Rub some dirt on it and get back in there.”
I didn’t hear much of what father said after that line of the prayer. I wasn’t sure what it meant. Was I supposed to genuflect even if it took me seven minutes to complete the maneuver?
I walked out of Thursday’s presentation with less serenity than I walked in with.
But, come back tomorrow so I can tell you what happened on Friday.