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Online Retreat Weeks
(1) Retreat Week One

Reflections for the week

JRS Online Retreat: Day 1 – A Strong Foundation: Getting Free to Love
Monday, November 01, 2010
Washington DC, 1 November 2010 – In his poem, “God’s Grandeur” Gerard Manley Hopkins, the nineteenth century Jesuit poet, wrote of how, despite all humankind’s efforts to disguise and mar the divine presence in our world, “there lives the deepest freshness deep down things.” The spark of God’s image survives even in the deepest darkness. The Jesuit Refugee Charter as well confirms this insight when it states: “To accompany refugees is to affirm that God is present in human history, even in most tragic episodes.”

JRS Online Retreat: Day 2 – Refugees in a World of Conflict and Violence
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Rome, 2 November 2010 – How beautiful this world of ours seems when viewed from the perspective of outer space! Its abundant land, water and air, minerals and energy, forests and farms seem capable of sustaining all earth’s people. It reminds us of how in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis God gazed lovingly on what he had created and saw that it was very good. As we look at our planet, we see a world of great diversity in terms of colors, plant life, living beings, as well as men and women of different languages and cultures. From the borders of space, however, we do not see the limitations and divisions of our world.

JRS Online Retreat: Day 3 – Refugees Lost in Big Cities
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Johannesburg, 3 November 2010 – Today more than half of the world’s refugees live in crowded urban areas rather than in refugee camps that have traditionally been located at great distances from major population centers. Danisa, a young Zimbabwean man, is one of these so-called “urban refugees.” He recently came to our office in Pretoria asking for money to begin a hair cutting business. After an interview, one of our team purchased some clippers, a chair, a mirror and a bowl. This was his shop. We worked with him to get a permit that enabled him to practice his trade legally, thus giving him some insurance from police raids. Nevertheless he was still vulnerable to robbery.

JRS Online Retreat: Day 4 – Landmines: A Wound in the Heart of God
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Phnom Penh, 4 November 2010 – Som Eik decided to try charcoal making and went off to the forest along the Thai border. Suddenly, he heard a huge bang and was flung into the air. One leg was dangling and he was bleeding profusely from wounds to the arms and body. A landmine. Soldiers far off heard the explosion and rushed to get him first aid.

JRS Online Retreat: Day 5 – A World in Need of Reconciliation
Friday, November 05, 2010
Washington DC, 5 November 2010 – Francisco had crossed the border into Arizona from Mexico with two brothers and a young sister-in-law. As a youngster in Mexico, his family had lived in a one-room wooden shack that had begun to collapse by the time he was a teenager. He had left Mexico for the U.S. when he was 17, determined to earn enough money to build his family. Little by little over the next five years he had succeeded in saving enough to build the beginnings of a new home for his family in Cuautla, Mexico. When he returned to Mexico in 2006, he stayed two months before returning to the U.S. so that he could make enough money to finish the kitchen.

JRS Online Retreat: Day 6 – The Prodigal Son: Forgiveness and Returning
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Abidjan, 6 November 2010 – The forgiveness-reconciliation equation is not a one-way process. Rather it is based on reciprocity: it is a process in space and in time. In order to avoid recurring cycles of violence and vengeance, it important to appreciate and understand how much exiles also suffer and how they experience their defeat as a humiliation from which they can only free themselves through a justice that takes the form of revenge.

JRS Online Retreat: Day 7 – Growing in tenderness
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Madrid, 7 November 2010 – In one fleeting moment, we were spared from confusion, misunderstanding and the difficulty of falling into inflexible positions. Waiting for all the teachers to arrive, seated in those tiny chairs, we stared at one another. Although I still do not know how, we managed to understand each other.

JRS Online Retreat: Day 8 – Life was Stronger than Death
Monday, November 08, 2010
Barcelona, 8 November 2010 – Mary’s faith and love have helped me to understand the experience of Jesus in his baptism. It was the first act of his adult life recounted in the gospels. Jesus says nothing, he simply listens. Everything begins with listening – “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”