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Manresa House of Retreats

Three days and nights in silence.  

A Poem inspired by my stay at Manresa House of Retreats and the experience shared below.  

The Wisdom of the Ancient Ones

The long drawn out dangling beard blows in the wind as if being stroked with knowledge seeping in, so majestic, secure, stable, and tall, the bark of which need to say nothing at all. 

The presence alone breathes wisdom into the air.

These ancient ones a representation of time standing still. 

A house and home in all conditions.  

How bold and how brave to bare all, to all, everywhere.

Persists to giving having taken root to stand. Firmly in its landing, as a simple small acorn once upon a time, not big at all. 

Oh great one who sees and hears all, let your knowledge enter in my conscious sphere, that I may grasp the whispers of wisdom blowing in your beard.  

(c) Matthew Ancira

In December this year in Louisiana, I wrote this poem after looking out of a window at huge oaks trees with moss hanging from them, blowing in the wind.  My favorite part of New Orleans since I was a kid has been the oaks.  Standing majestically, creating an arbor for the streets, shading, and reaching for me.  

Inspired by a three-days of silence at Manresa House of Retreats, my mind was happy to take the time to see the obvious. 

Self-reflection is crucial to any sound mind.  To reset from electronics and the responsibility for helping others, this was time to self-care for the sake of being a better man.  

Living in New Orleans, we do what we can to help the awakening.  New Orleans has always been unique and is the place I grew up and was raised.  Today, forty years later, it is different and crowded with people from all over the United States and the world.  

The essence of New Orleans and its authenticity has changed. The crime is up, and the youth are challenged more so than I have ever seen, which is a universal obstacle.  How can I help? 

Three days and nights to spiritually restore and dive deep into understanding more about my life yielded much. To experience a reorientation for me was crucial to my well being.  

I always say, “to be the best provider of healing I can be; I have to be my own first client.” 

And that was what taking this time for me was supporting.  

My grandfather, Dr. John Menville, went to a yearly retreat at Manresa, and eventually became a captain, bringing others to Manresa. As a kid, I remember him talking about his retreat and how much it meant to him spiritually.

My grandfather was raised in Houma, Louisiana, and moved to New Orleans so he could go to Jesuit high school in 8th grade. Together with that education and his parents, he learned to be a man for others. He was a four letterman at Jesuit and Tulane University. After attending Tulane Medical School and doing three residencies, he returned home to practice Urology. A captain in the Navy, he performed his duty as a medic in World War II.

Gramp pretended to be serious, but underneath he loved to make everyone laugh and was hilarious. When he made rounds at the hospitals, the first thing he did was to bring coffee to the ladies working at the information desk. He never charged nuns, priests, or widows. His secretary complained there would not be enough to pay the bills. He always said they would manage. And they did.

Unconditional Love. 

The first time I actually registered the feeling of what unconditional love meant was with this man, my grandfather.  I remember lying about something when I was fourteen.  It was during a holiday, and we usually ended up at his house for the family to get together.  

I told him what I had done and that I didn’t want to do that anymore.  It was in the coat closet/room with a baby piano on the side, and I was face to face just he and I. He looked at me and did not say anything, just hugged me.  

This action was a right of passage.  One man to another. It was freeing and permission to be a better me.  To this day, I am grateful that I was met with love from a man I respected, admired, and I knew he loved me.  

I have been fortunate to have a lot of good role models and mentors in my life.  And through this type of support, I have also taken myself on to become the best version of me I can generate.  

Part of this process that has repeated in different mediums has been a self-reflection.  At Manresa this first year, I came up with a lot of useful insights with the guidance and talks from the Jesuits.  

Take-Aways from my Manresa House of Retreats experience.


  • I’ve come to understand that a man is to find himself and grow to be a pillar for the community, and no two pillars are alike.  Different pillars are used for different houses.  

My world of owning my own business at twenty-three and pioneering many other projects led me to a place of destiny in service for others doing what I do now.  My place or pillar was for a different house than that of the corporate world.  I am a pillar of healing. 

  • You have to keep forgiving over and over.  There is a difference between forgiving and forgetting.  You can’t forgive if you remember.  

Everyone I know has hurt.  Allowing the life and dream to continue beyond those hurts is what makes the world move.  Being a victim serves no one and creates a vicious cycle that has the victim stuck in perpetual pain.  

  • Silent and listen have the same letters.  

It is a great honor when one person hears what is said from another. For the self-respect required to listen is much of the healing provided from hearing your soul speak when being silent long enough. 

  • Hurt people, hurt people. 

It is best to find a path to healing.  Each person’s hurts are as large as the next person no matter what it looks like to outsider’s eyes. Pain is a part of life, like suffering.  No one can suffer forever.  

  • Gratitude has to be cultivated.  It is a virtue that will strengthen us.  

A meditation step into shifting one’s being is to be grateful.  Reflect on all that you are thankful for, and the moment opens like a door to fresh air.  

A big thank you to Manresa for the opportunity to be with me in the company of others who wanted more from their life.  

And thank you, Ancient ones, for your words of wisdom and your actions.  Whispering ancient knowledge in the air and giving hugs to set us free. 

I love you Grampa.  You live on through me.