I’m back from my weekend silent retreat! I missed you all! I don’t think I’ve ever missed a day posting on my Love Being Catholic Facebook page in over three years, but this weekend I agreed to unplug and gave my heart, my distractions, my family, and my responsibilities – all to God.
This retreat was put on through my Church, St. Brigid, (Johns Creek, GA.) Two wonderful priest, Father Josh Allen and Father Michael Silloway, ran the entire retreat. They were absolutely amazing and did such a wonderful job! Please remember to always pray for our priests. They give so much to all of us and our beautiful Church. They all need our support, our love and our prayers.
I am so incredibly grateful beyond words for this silent weekend alone with God. I am in awe at how deeply moving this weekend turned out to be. Completely in awe. Completely, totally, in awe.
I have no words. Okay, I have a few words that I will write below, but these words will not do it justice.
Over the past several years many people have suggested to me that I should go on a silent retreat. I always thought it sounded like a great idea, but I left it at that. I always had an excuse. I was always too busy, my children were too young, money was too tight, my family would fall apart without me there to take care of them (at least that’s what I told myself), work needed to be done, my laundry would get out of control,
etc. . . I’m good at excuses. Very good. This time, however, a dear friend of mine convinced me (I must have had a weak moment) to go, and before I knew what was happening, I had agreed. I had signed up to go on my first silent retreat. Actually, this was my very first retreat that I can remember. This was huge for me. I’m not a retreat kind of person – retreats were for everyone else, but not me.
I was told by several people that once I signed up for the retreat (especially during Lent!), that many things would come up that would tempt me to cancel or decide not to go. Sure enough, the week before my retreat my job was crazier and busier than ever, my children needed me desperately, (that’s what I told myself), I was exhausted, I almost burned my house down (that’s another story for another day), and the night before the retreat I came inches away from crashing into a crazy deer that ran in front of my car as I was driving my daughter to volleyball. Despite these events, I made it to Friday afternoon (alive) and before I knew it I was pulling into the Simpsonwood Retreat Center in Norcross, GA.
After parking the car, I checked my email on my iPhone one more time, re-applied my lipstick and then realized (a little distraught) that I forgot my mascara. (Vanity). Oh well. It ended up being a good thing for on these kinds of retreats you tend to talk intimately with God and shed a few (many) tears. The mascara would have been a mess anyway. (Note to self – God doesn’t care about the make-up.)
As I got out of my car, I remember telling God, “Okay, I’m here. You got me here. Now what?” I told Him I was “His” for the weekend, and prayed that he would “Shine his light in my soul” (Sounded poetic enough for me.)
I’ll make a very long story short and won’t go into detail, but the silence that I experienced on this retreat was very, very good for my soul. It’s rarely silent in our world today, and it’s even rarer to take a whole weekend, leave the distractions and life as we know it behind, and focus our attention only on God. This retreat that I have put off for so many years, was an answer to my prayers. I’ve always prayed for “Joy and Peace”. At this retreat, I found it.
When you go silent, you suddenly hear the wind, the birds chirping, the branches moving in the trees, the shoes shuffling down the walkway, the pattern of the rain, even your own heartbeat. The voice of God is always there talking to you, but it’s rare that we stop the distractions and the rush of day to day living to really listen to Him. Sometimes we don’t want to listen because we may not want to hear what He has to say. Sometimes we do more talking than listening. (Guilty as charged.) Sometimes He doesn’t say anything at all, He just looks at you with Love – a holy glance that is more powerful than anything you can imagine, or a holy hug that you cannot even describe.
I promise you, when you give Him your heart, and your soul, and your mind, and your attention, and your time, and really listen, He is there. He has something He desperately wants to tell you, and that is that He LOVES you. He loves you madly, passionately and unconditionally. He created you in His image. He picked this exact moment in time for you to exist, and there is a reason and purpose for your existence. YOU matter to Him. You are His child, and He loves you more than you can ever imagine. Think about how much you love your own children. He loves you more than this. A lot more.
At this retreat we did the Stations of the Cross, Mass, Adoration, Confession, Spiritual Direction, prayed the rosary, and listened to several powerful talks by Father Josh and Father Michael. They poured their heart and soul out into this retreat, and I know their reflections and stories profoundly affected the lives of every woman there. At this retreat I laughed, cried, prayed, rested, read, wrote, listened, and sat in the presence of God. You will hear God’s voice in silence. I heard him in the silence, and in the priest and in Confession and at Adoration, and through the other women that I met. This retreat was a huge blessing in my life. A huge grace. And for this I am eternally grateful beyond words.
Yes, God shined his light in my imperfect soul, and I loved every minute of it. It’s up to me to do my best to stay focused on God, and to put Him first in my life. Do I recommend that you go on a silent retreat. Absolutely. Don’t make any excuses. Just go. God is there and He wants to talk to you. Just go. God loves you, and wants to get to know you better. Be open to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and just go.