Aside from my utter confusion in my first Mass experience (stand up, sing this, say that, sit down, pass peace, say something else…all things a casual Evangelical finds alien), I was so very filled and fortified by my recent all- day retreat at the Jesuit Center‘s Guided Day of Prayer (which was Lenten themed).
It stood together in contrasts:
- A quiet and calm place & my restless and weary soul
- Freedom in the boundless love of God & the the intricate, foreign formality and rule of Catholic liturgy and Holy Communion.
- Muted joy of Lenten season & the bright love and goodness of my spiritual siblings
- A banquet of food and refreshment & the observing of stark silence
- A wide open day of prayer and reflection & the speed at which it passed
A scheduled day of silent prayer retreat is something you might not know you need until you get it. I sat in the beautiful chapel and wept off and on for over an hour, much to my own surprise.
I found it amazing how God can use a place and others to all at once pierce and convict my sullied heart of sin and obstinacy while also flooding it with his omnipresent love and overflowing grace. Let me tell you, it’s healing.
But let me be clear: It’s healing, not in an “I feel all better now” type of way. It was very much like the “undragoning” spoken of in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (I was Eustace Scrubb.) It smarts, but then too, it brings refreshment.
In the absence of noise and obligation you begin to hear, see, listen and perceive with keener clarity. In determined places and times of silence Reality becomes louder and more involved. Love becomes saturated in, through, and around you, the creaturely image-bearer of the Divine. You come again to the Center, the Real. Home.
Several analogies shared at guided portions brought me great insights. I’ll share those in soon in part II.
Many retreat centers offer space for a time of quiet and prayer for just a little money. Here’s a directory to find one near you.