Center For Life Transitions Logo The Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos

LifeSHIFT: Work & the Christian Journey

The Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos
Los Altos, California
February 19-21, 2016

LifeSHIFT at Los Altos, CA February 2016Hosted and co-sponsored by the Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos for the first time, LifeSHIFT was offered to 20 participants from a variety of work and career backgrounds. Tom Bachhuber, (President of the Board for the Center for Life Transitions) and Jim Briggs (former Executive Director at the School of Applied Theology and Vice President of Student Affairs at Santa Clara University) co-led the group with presentations, discussions, small group work, prayer, time for solitude and opportunities for individual consultation. The staff of the Jesuit Retreat Center offered spiritual direction as well as daily Mass over the weekend.

The work of William Bridges, Parker Palmer, and Herminia Ibarra were used while St. Ignatius of Loyola, Theresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Alfred Delp and Henri Nouwen were sources for spirituality. Jim presented Discernment and Ignatian Spirituality, offering participants the opportunity to engage aspects of the Spiritual Exercises using Tom’s Booklet Career Planning & Ignatian Spirituality.

Other key elements to the weekend included:

  • Presentation and discussion on Transitions: Reflections on Career, Work, Vocation and Faith
  • Presentation and discussion on Purposeful Aging
  • Values Card Sort activity in pairs
  • Chalice prayer
  • Discussion on optimally using our time

Participants were provided a variety of handouts, articles and exercises in a binder. New to the LifeSHIFT weekend, a social time spontaneously happened Saturday. Thanks to Laura for making it happen!

Karl Barth, who Pope Pius XII called Christianity’s greatest theologian since St. Thomas Aquinas comments on how important it is to have opportunities for deeper discussion on our faith, spirituality and personal journeys.

“It saddens us that we are cut off from each other, that there is always such different worlds—you in your house and me in my house, you with your thoughts and me with mine. And then we experience the fact that we are mute. Our talk is always such an imperfect, wooden, dead talk. Fire will not break out in it, but can only smolder in our words.”

Jim Manney, SJ in his book, God Finds Us, says that St. Ignatius recognized that God’s will is not a precise blueprint, but neither is it a vague “whatever you want” blank check. God has a “plan” in the sense that he has an idea of the kind of person you can be and an idea of the life that would bring you the most joy. When we find what we really want, we find what God wants, too. It’s a pretty remarkable idea, Jim says, so he says it again: “When we discover what we really want, we discover what God wants, too.”

The 2016 LifeSHIFT participants at the Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos opened their hearts and allowed “fire” to break out in them. Hopefully, they also made a good start toward discovering what they and God really want for their lives.

Participants’ Comments

“Tom and Jim had great styles of presenting and communicating, bringing their own experiences into the conversations.”

“I benefited the most from being able to take time out of my life—thinking and praying; then coming out with a plan of action.”

“I found out that I have lived my life being moved and affected from the external. NOW, my life will move from inside my soul.”

“All the information was wonderful but also at times, overwhelming. For others, it may have been perfect. I will need time for more processing.”

“My favorite things were listening to others, having quiet time and the handouts.”

“I came to realize that I am going to need to listen to God to figure out my next steps.”

“Most valuable for me was taking a much needed time out to begin the process of figuring out how to spend the final chapters of my life. And the need to be more prayerful and open to God.”

“It was the right balance for me between concrete work planning and spirituality. The combination helped me move forward in my planning.”

“It helped me realize how important time is in my life—especially now that I am 70!”

“The retreat was restful, relaxing and yet a challenging weekend. Got a tremendous amount out of it. Well done.”

“For me, the balance between career planning and spirituality was perfect. The emphasis on God and prayer to help guide your transition decision-making was right for me.”