Retreat at Home: Take a Gratitude Walk

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Veronica Szczygiel is the Assistant Director of Online Learning at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education.

In times of trouble, our hearts long for peace and turn to God. One way to re-center ourselves on our relationship with the Lord is to retreat, or withdraw, from the world. We can do so even at home, and this period of social distancing can be an opportunity to grow closer to God. Taking the time to retreat means that you are focusing inward and calling the Lord to come into your heart. The experience should help you feel more at peace and more aware that God is truly with you.

One retreat you can do easily is a Gratitude Walk. If you are near a forest or beach, that is a lovely setting. But if you live in an urban or suburban area, walking around your neighborhood is just as good. The point is to go outside by yourself, unaccompanied, without checking news, social media or email. This Gratitude Walk is solely for you and God.

As you leave your home, invite God to come walk with you. Say, “Lord, I know you are near and ready to be with me. Come, walk beside me, and I will follow you.” Then, begin your walk. You have no destination and no specific route. Simply walk wherever your feet take you. It can be for 20 minutes or an hour, depending on the responsibilities you may have at home. If you see someone you know during this retreat, kindly wave and smile at them from afar, but try not to engage in conversation. This is your time with God.

Because this is a Gratitude Walk, focus your thoughts on being thankful. Remain mindful to what’s around you: observe the people, animals, sights, sounds and smells. Whatever you encounter, praise God for his creation and for this moment with him. Whether it be a bird chirping, a daffodil newly bloomed or the breeze upon your face, thank God for his care and mercy upon even the most fragile of creation.

A modified version of the Gratitude Walk is Gratitude Watch. Sit from the comfort of your home near a window and carefully examine everything you see. Focus on minute details and say a word of thanks for each one. You can say, “Thank you, Lord, for [insert observation here]. Truly, you are wonderful!”

This retreat should put you in a positive mindset and help you realize that even when life is stressful, there is always something to be grateful for — most of all, God’s love for us.

COMING UP: Lebanese priest: ‘We need your prayers’ after Beirut explosions

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A Lebanese Catholic priest has asked believers around the world to pray for the people of his country, after two explosions in Beirut injured hundreds of people and are reported to have left at least 10 people dead.

“We ask your nation to carry Lebanon in its hearts at this difficult stage and we place great trust in you and in your prayers, and that the Lord will protect Lebanon from evil through your prayers,” Fr. Miled el-Skayyem of the Chapel of St. John Paul II in Keserwan, Lebanon, said in a statement to EWTN News Aug. 4.

“We are currently going through a difficult phase in Lebanon, as you can see on TV and on the news,” the priest added.

Raymond Nader, a Maronite Catholic living in Lebanon, echoed the priest’s call.

“I just ask for prayers now from everyone around the world. We badly need prayers,” Nader told CNA Tuesday.

Explosions in the port area of Lebanon’s capital overturned cars, shattered windows, set fires, and damaged buildings across Beirut, a city of more than 350,000, with a metro area of more than 2 million people.

“It was a huge disaster over here and the whole city was almost ruined because of this explosion and they’re saying it’s kind of a combination of elements that made this explosion,” Antoine Tannous, a Lebanese journalist, told CNA Tuesday.

Officials have not yet determined the cause of the explosions, but investigators believe they may have started with a fire in a warehouse that stored explosive materials. Lebanon’s security service warned against speculations of terrorism before investigators could assess the situation.

According to Lebanon’s state-run media, hundreds of injured people have flooded hospital emergency rooms in the city.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has declared that Wednesday will be a national day of mourning. The country is almost evenly divided between Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and Chrsitians, most of whom are Maronite Catholics. Lebanon also has a small Jewish population, as well as Druze and other religious communities.

Featured image: A picture shows the scene of an explosion near the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4, 2020. – Two huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky. Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, some bloodied, after the massive explosions, the cause of which was not immediately known. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)