Christ the King Retreat House Reflection

The memories begin when I touch the heavy iron grillwork on the front door: it is the sensation of entering a cloister, and I expect to hear a chorus of “How do you solve a problem like Maria” as the door swings slowly open. I enter the grand entryway, faced with a grand fireplace and a winding staircase. The interior has a solid, peaceful ambiance, from the tiled hallway outside the Chapel, to the windows flanked by heavy draperies, and the solid upholstered furniture supported by curved legs resting on oak parquet floors. Heavy timber beams hold up the ceiling in the great room on the lower level. I recall sitting by the wall of windows absorbing spiritual wisdom; while my ears listened to Godʼs word, my eyes took in a grand display of Godʼs love for all of creation. During rest breaks in the program, I walked the winding paths behind the swimming pool, pausing to pray before a statue or to recline in an adirondack chair overlooking the valley below.

Stations of the cross are laid out not once, but twice on the property. There is a short, continuous group of stations just below the first floor patio, In adddition there is a long, winding path with side trips to every station set within a tiny garden. Every year on Good Friday the Office of Youth Ministry cleans the winter deer droppings so that Bishop Cunningham can lead a prayerful evening walk through the stations at twilight. The retreat house gardens bring back family memories as well. For many years on Good Friday, my husband and I brought our youngsters early in the day for a child-friendly reflective walk. Trotting from station to station, the children prayed as their bodies moved with restless youthful energy. Climbing on rocks and tumbling in the grass, they offered praise and worship with the abandon of a child at home in creation.

The Diocese of Syracuse welcomes to the garden anyone seeking a place for prayer and reflection. I urge you to join the parish this Saturday, May 14th at 10 am at Christ the King Retreat House for a few hours of digging and planting. Enjoy the opportunity to enhance the prayer experience for all who seek God in this unique setting. Bring gardening gloves & trowels, shovels and rakes, as well as cardboard boxes to share for weed control. Contact Beth at 416-4576 if you can be there, and let me know if you can stay for lunch!

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