The Retreat House, in Winter

Before we had kids, I would make a silent retreat every summer at the guest house on the campus of St. Mary’s College in South Bend.  

My favorite room in which to sit, read, and pray was a thin room that wrapped around the south wall of the house. On the second floor and with giant windows, the room welcomes visitors right in the trees, into a world of leaves and light. The depth of field in the summer months is about forty feet, obscured by vegetation.

After a few years of summer retreats, I then spent one winter weekend there.  The view from the room was completely different.  The leaves were gone.  The sun was filtered through many clouds.  And, most strikingly, the depth of field was much greater.  I could see over a mile now, through the leafless trees, all the way down to the river.  

Winter, then, afforded an enhanced perspective.

The “winters” of life, moments of loss, conflict, or pain, can be a challenge, sometimes of uninterpretable ruthlessness.  Only with good company, I think, can we navigate these winters, and tune into the unique perspective that they offer, the expanded depth of field.  This transformed vision can fuel a life of remarkable compassion.