It is almost two weeks since the last posting. It has been a full couple of weeks.

The good news is that I do not need any more radiation on the lesions on my left arm.  They are almost healed; the previous five treatments were enough to do the job. (The other two lesions in need of bandaging are slowly healing as well.)  Since I had set this time aside for radiation, I decided to do my annual retreat instead. I begin today. I am doing it at our Jesuit retreat house in Pickering. I return to Guelph on May 3.

My mother and sister, Mary, visited last week. We had a very nice visit. All of my siblings (8) have made it to Guelph since the diagnosis. My mother has made it a couple of times. As with the other visits, it is also a time to visit some cousins in the area. It is always nice to connect with family.

Nancy Tuckman and Steve Mitten, SJ, from Loyola University in Chicago also visited this week. Loyola recently acquired a rural property on which they are offering academic programming in ecology and retreats for students. I was there two years ago. It is a beautiful property and their plans for the place are very exciting. It was great to visit with them, share mutual interests, and compare notes on our programming.

This past Sunday, we celebrated Earth Day at St. Brigid’s Villa. It was a great celebration, beginning with  a mass presided by Bill Clarke. The Elderberry Connection had a weekend retreat, so all the retreatants joined us for the mass. Sr. Priscilla Solomon led the retreat. She also began the mass with a smudging (cleansing) ceremony. After the mass we planted a red oak tree, as a prayer for my healing and the Earth’s healing. As I explained on Sunday, the picking of a red oak is significant. The villa is named after St. Brigid of Kildare. “Kildare” is Irish for “chapel of the oak”. Oaks are sacred trees for the Irish. Red Oak is the provincial tree for PEI. On the PEI flag are four red oak trees. Red oaks are also native to our area. After the planting, various other activities happened throughout the afternoon. It was a nice festive time, albeit a bit cold.

I am looking forward to the retreat. It will be a nice chance to reflect on the journey of this past year. A retreat of gratitude!