March 21, 2014

'Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the water!' Isaiah 55:1

Editor: We invited the Staff of Mercy Center at Madison, Connecticut, truly Mercy by the Sea, blessed as it is with 33 acres of breath-taking, waterfront property on Long Island Sound, to share with us a reflection on the healing, nurturing power of this place. Carol Villaggio, Mercy Associate, writes:

Water! Living and ministering here at the edge of Long Island Sound we know the water, its moods, its rhythms, its delights, its power. We see it in the calm of dawn welcoming the sun over its rim and in the evening supporting the rising moon. The calm ripples, the surging tides, the cresting waves of storms witness to its many moods.

We come to this water to quench our thirst for Living Water, to let its long stretches put our lives with its concerns into the larger perspective of God’s gaze. The rocks anchor us firmly in God’s love. The sandy shore holds us softly. We become aware of the outpouring of grace upon our searching souls ready for nourishment and renewal.

We whose bodies are 60-70% water feel at home beside the water. Perhaps it is primordial as our DNA acknowledges its first experience of being reverently held in the amniotic fluid of the womb. Or perhaps it is a special memory of a connective experience in nature. Whatever the explanation, the effects are the same: Awareness, relaxation, renewal, refreshment. As a retreatant remarked, 'She accepts me where I am and somehow knows exactly what I need when I stand or sit in her presence.'

Whether it be gazing at the sparkling diamonds dancing on the water, inhaling the fresh salty scent of ocean air, listening to the symphony of sound as the cadence of the movement of the Sound changes from staccato to crescendo, feeling the coolness of the water brushing along one’s skin, or tasting its saltiness, being present to the gifts of the sea is a sensual experience of delight and renewal sending us forth renewed to the work of God.

Perhaps it is her saltiness that evokes and absorbs the tears shed in her presence. Hildegard of Bingen says, 'It is the moistness of our soul that leads us to shed tears.' Does not God lead us to life-giving waters to shed tears in order to find refreshment and delight, renewal for ministry?

The experience of the sea heightens one’s sense of being at one with the One who has graced us with this gift. Could it be that we and the sea are both created for the same purpose: to quench creation’s thirst for Living Water?

Nothing soothes the soul like a walk on the beach or a swim in the Sound.

'I listen to the water
washing oh so softly
upon the rocks & stones
strewn upon the beach.
And, as I listen
to the constant rhythm,
I know that God,
in unending desire,
so washes over us,
desirous to soak and moisten
dry spaces and hard edges,
never ceasing, never pausing,
only changing rhythm,
in the constant pursuit
of gathering us in
the great embrace.'

 Water – Edwina Gateley


Messages to: Ann McGovern rsm- Director of Mission Integration & Hospitality, Mercy Center at Madison

Mercy Center at Madison, Mercy by the Sea, is blessed with 33 acres of breath-taking, waterfront property resplendent with shrubs, flowers and other plantings. Over 45 different species of trees grace the property, including Sugar Maple, Red Maple, White Pine, Black Gum, Paper Birch, Dogwood, Serviceberry, Hawthorne, Eastern Red Cedar and Red Oak. From Mercy Center's beautiful, private beach to our outdoor gardens to our Seaside Meditation Room and Chapel, you will feel welcomed, safe and peaceful here.

This Place where Mercy Center sits is beautiful with its rolling lawn, gardens tucked in many corners, trees that bloom and blossom through many seasons and of course, Long Island Sound.

Come Visit Us.

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