June 4, 2021 | Your Stories

Participants of the April 23-25, 2021 Paducah Faith Formation catechists retreat at Gasper River Retreat Center. Front row (left to right): Jeff Andrini, Lynn Brown, Ging Smith, and Brenda Spees; back row (left to right): Richard Vieitez, Glynn Smith, Ben Teer, and Lynn Baker. COURTESY OF GING SMITH

‘Come, follow me’ – Paducah catechist retreat fosters prayer with nature at Gasper River


On Friday evening, April 23, 2021, seven catechists from Paducah and our facilitator, Dr. Jeff Andrini, met at Gasper River Retreat Center near Bowling Green. The rain was to follow us. The small, still river which our lodging overlooked waited in anticipation, eager to fulfill her purpose.

The sign at Gasper River welcomes the April 23-25, 2021 Paducah Faith Formation catechists retreat. COURTESY OF GING SMITH

Pope Francis had said during a September 2020 gathering with ecological experts that “There will be no new relationship with nature without a new human being, and it is by healing the human heart that one can hope to heal the world from its social and environmental unrest.”

At Gasper during our retreat, a hard rain washed in the early morning and the little river was suddenly alive. Pushing at her banks, sharing with us her passion and fury in the boiling water.

Our group, along with another retreat group, celebrated the Eucharist with Fr. Mike Williams in the early evening at a vigil Mass. We settled into the night with conversation and reflection; the river rushed by, below.

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh had stated in September 2015 that “We need to change our way of thinking and seeing things. We need to realize the Earth is not just our environment. The Earth is not something outside of you. Look around you, what you see is not your environment, it is you.”

Back at Gasper, on Sunday morning, the long shadows were crisp, pushing boldly against the grass. We were to climb and then let go, letting the unknown become known.  And like the river, we were to go home.

As Thomas Merton wrote in his book “Thoughts in Solitude,” “Let me seek the gift of silence and poverty, where everything I touch is turned into prayer; where the sky is prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all.”

Glynn Smith serves with the Paducah Faith Formation ministry in Paducah.

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Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
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