When I went on retreat9 Oct 2014
Earlier this year, I went on a silent retreat for a week. It was my first retreat longer than just a few days, and it was my first silent one. What better, I thought, than a week of silence for an introvert?! It would be a perfect opportunity for getting all my discernment done in one go and ‘sorting out’ my life. So it was somewhat of a disappointment that the first thing I heard in all that silence was
– Let go of your agenda and of trying to get me to comply.
Rightio then. Glad we cleared that up.
The first few days were rather uncomfortable, to say the least, especially as I contemplated who I am when I’m not doing anything. But as I entered more deeply into the silence and surrendered my own expectations of what ‘ought’ to happen, God continued to surprise me and make me laugh.
– It’s not about what you do. You can be a lawyer, a teacher, a doctor. It doesn’t matter, as long as you are not burying your talents. Use them, invest them. But they are not your self. Your self is mine.
– Do you know how much angst I sometimes have over this?! And now you’re telling me it doesn’t matter?
– It matters that you invest your talents and offer them for the building of my kingdom. But beyond that, no, it doesn’t matter. Do what delights you, what brings you joy, and you will bring joy to others. See, you enjoyed Sr Veronica’s painting, and she enjoyed doing it. Dance your dance, for my glory and no-one else. Live deeply in me. Do not be troubled or perturbed. Let nothing disturb my peace within you.
– This is not what I was expecting! Do you know I was ready to pack it in?
– I know. But I am here with you. You asked me to teach, and you listened. Pray as you can, and I am there. Don’t worry about how others pray. I am where you are. Just listen and be still. You needed to still yourself sufficiently and be stripped of your busyness to hear that I love you, I delight in you, all of you, as you are. Let my love shine like the sun in your life. Stop trying to anticipate the future, while living in fear in the present. Remain in me, in my love, and share that love with others, bearing fruit that will last – by how you treat others and how you love them. It really is that simple. Stop trying to complicate it. Remain in me and in my love, and go forth sharing that good news.
Several months post-retreat I still struggle to consciously live in God’s love all the time, but I am heartened by the memory of the encounter and its continual invitation to enter more deeply into God and be completely transformed and renewed.Christina Rocha is a Canberra writer and lawyer.