Reflections from Retreat
Earlier this month, the ladies of Lisieux House went on a retreat. One of the many wonderful things that come with living at Lisieux House (other than having Jesus as a roommate) is that we go on two retreats a year, one spiritual and the other recreational. This one, in particular, was our spiritual retreat.
Suitcases in our cars and and excitement in our hearts, we made the 20-minute trek from our home to the SOLT convent in Ballard, where we embarked on our weekend of prayer.
With the exception of talks from our house chaplain, Fr. Parrish, we would spend the day in silence and contemplation, reflecting on Father's talks and simply conversing with our Lord. As an introvert — and all-too-often an overextended introvert due to having paradoxically extrovert-like tendencies — it was a dream come true. I carefully selected the book I would read for the weekend (The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis) and felt all giddy inside with the thought of not having to talk to anyone all day long (with the exception of the Holy Trinity and the saints, of course).
At the beginning of our retreat, Father invited each of us to prayerfully identify one scripture passage that spoke to our needs and then to ask the Lord to reveal more about that need. I actually failed at the assignment and chose too many passages, but I will share one of them that the Lord put in my heart. It is from Genesis:
"It is not good for the man to be alone." (Genesis 2:18)
Leave it to God to bring this up at the precise moment in which I was embracing the idea of being alone. He's funny that way.
For a little context, these words were spoken by God about Adam. Soon after, God creates Eve to be Adam's helper, companion, wife, and one whom Adam calls "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh." Leading up to Lent and even now, I've noticed that Lord has been bringing me back quite literally to the start of things, asking me to contemplate how things are meant to be.
How I am meant to be.
More and more, God makes it clear that he intends me to be in relationship with Him and others — that He desires it for me so deeply and that, in fact, it is the deepest longing in my heart. It is to know and to be known, to see and to be seen. To love and to be loved in my fullness and truth.
And it has been here at Lisieux House, where I am surrounded by a community of women whom I initially had no choice whatsoever to live with (but now call dear friends!), that I get a small taste of that which will be fully realized in Heaven. Everyday, God invites me to see the goodness and beauty of the women I am privileged to live with, to love them and to love Him through them.
And this I find sometimes more difficult than it should be: He invites me to receive His love in full.
Father told us during our retreat that community is truly a privileged place, and I can't help but see the truth of that statement the more I live here. Again and again, the Lord reveals to me that it is good to be here. My friends kindly walk with me in my journey of healing and fervently run with me in our pilgrimage to Heaven.
In the silence, my heart sang in gratitude for this gift of community, friendship, and relationship. It sings for my Heavenly King who begins to answer the cries of my heart before I can even begin to articulate them.
And with that, I conclude with words from a man far more eloquent than I. The passage is from the Four Loves, a book that I read as I passed the day in silence:
"The especial glory of Affection is that it can unite those who most emphatically, even comically, are not, people who, if they had not found themselves put down by fate in the same household or community, would have had nothing to do with each other. If Affection grows out of this — of course it often does not — their eyes begin to open. Growing fond of "old so-and-so," at first simply because he happens to be there, I presently begin to see that there is "something in him" after all. The moment when one first says, really meaning it, that though he is not "my sort of man" he is a very good man "in his own way" is one of liberation. It does not feel like that; we may feel only tolerant and indulgent. But really we have crossed a frontier. That "in his own way" means that we are getting beyond our idiosyncrasies, that we are learning to appreciate goodness or intelligence in themselves, not merely goodness or intelligence flavored and served to suit our own palate."