It is SOOOO GOOD TO BE BACK. As you all know I have been out the last two weeks, first on an eight-day silent retreat and then a few days with old classmates. Both were great experiences in their own right but placed back to back, especially after being out eight of the previous fourteen days at leadership training, was simply too much. I felt a little like a young lover, who can’t fully enjoy Christmas with the family because they pine for their sweetheart; at least I think that’s the image I’m going for. J
The retreat was an amazing experience; I tend to be a quieter guy anyway so the silence was no problem at all. The weather was terrible the first two days, high winds sideways rain, but then turned pleasant and I was able to go for long walks every day. The retreat was held on the seminary campus in Chicago that I attended so I remembered all the hidden treasures and secret paths. To tell you the truth it was kind of a healing opportunity, because as great as my time in the seminary was, when you come to your twenty-third straight year of schooling you kind of start to abhor your surroundings. This gave me the chance to come back and see it with the fresh eyes of priestly experience so I could enjoy the beauty before me.
Seeing the guys was equally incredible. It’s been at least five years since I have seen all these guys and though it was only for two days it was awesome. I likened it to seeing my natural brothers; when we all get together, we fall into the same attitudes and patterns of our youth. When hanging out with the Altenhofen boys I pretty much become a sixteen year old kid again, which is why I can’t let them come up here in great numbers very often or you all might lose respect for me because of my childish behavior. It was like that with the guys, we fell into old patterns and it was almost like we had never left. In fact, we were even chided a few times being reminded that we needed to not take over the student residence because we weren’t actually students anymore. It was delightful.
As great as the time was I missed you all the whole time, and on more than one occasion considered just cutting the whole thing short so that I could get back home. It’s interesting how it happens that a parish assignment, becomes a flock, becomes a family, without the priest even realizing it. I truly missed all of you and don’t plan on leaving again for quite a while. On day one I was ready for a break, now I just can’t wait for some sort of parish crisis to happen so I can get back into the swing of things, that’s not a request! just a muse. It is so good to see you all.
Prayers Always, Fr. Joseph Altenhofen