It was late, but we headed up to Clarksville Tennessee and camped in a rest stop and with the truckers and the tired. We arose early and made it to our alma mater, St. Louis University. This is where we met in 1971 at a coffeehouse Cricket was opening on the campus mass was celebrated by Jesuit father john Kavanaugh, one of the famous St. Louis Jesuit musicians responsible for so many of the hymns now sung all over the world. We got to visit with Father Kavanaugh and I attempted to remind him that he and I had both played in Cricket’s coffeehouse a few hundred years ago. He teaches philosophy in the college and grad school, and I later discovered has written a book on the topic of being Catholic in a consumerist culture, which was exactly the theme we were using for the Franciscan regional conference we were leading. After mass we wandered the campus which has grown so much since we were here and found the place where the coffeehouse had been.
We arrived at Saint Malo on Friday afternoon and began our retreat. The first evening concentrated on “seeking in the desert”. Jerry had felt lead to write a song based on psalm 34, “there is one thing I seek,” and while he was writing it a small bird landed on the window and began singing nonstop. Jerry practiced other songs and the bird wasn’t there, but returned whenever the “one thing” song was played. Jerry couldn’t believe that the participants would believe this happened, so he had Cricket verify it. It was a wonderful evening with Cricket’s anointed teaching and a social time afterwards. Saturday began with mass and Friar Felix brought us together. We had three presentation times which included “Becoming Prayer”. Both Cricket and Jerry’s presentations were interactive with the group, but there was plenty of time for socializing and reflection as well. The meals were not rushed, and on Saturday night we found they had a tradition of a sing along in the lodge; I’m not sure how often Glory and praise, Motown, rocky mountain high, and southern spirituals get mixed in the same venue but we all laughed and sang until we collapsed. Sunday morning was the final presentation and then the celebration of the mass it was a very special time up blessing, and so many of the 60 participants wanted to maximize the time we all had together. As we were leaving, Cricket happened to ask in which room Pope John Paul the second had occupied when he was here---and sure enough, Marianne and the team had given us that room.
We drove back across the plains and somehow got lost trying to get back to walking stick park. Cricket guided us to a road that I believe still had the wagon Ruts of the Pioneers’. But we had a wonderful late night and morning “Rough camping” (without hookups) and Cricket prepared the retreat she would give in Kansas City for a group of third order Carmelites. We knew this would be a small group, but as always, the right people were there and we went well into the night in prayer and celebration. Cricket stayed with her good friend Maria in Kansas City but Jerry headed down to Little Rock to give a workshop. There is something so renewing about driving on the smaller highways our grandparents had as Jerry headed through the southern half of Missouri to Arkansas. On Friday, we had a rendezvous and headed to see our daughter Talia in a major role in the Baton Rouge little theatre’s production of The King and I. (Talia can be heard, as can our other daughters, on our CDs.
We arrived home on Sunday evening and thanked God for our trip and all of you!