The final day of each retreat is similar. I get up, normally after not sleeping properly, feeling a bit unhappy and aggravated. I’m unhappy as a result of nevertheless lengthy the retreat lasted it had been a time of quiet pleasure with God and the few individuals I used to be known as to steer on this retreat. The retreat middle, even when positioned in the course of town, turned an oasis towards the noise and busyness of recent dwelling, permitting every particular person the house to decompress, unwind and maybe for the primary time shortly, be alone with God.
I’m aggravated, in fact, as a result of the retreat is over. This idyllic scenario, not like every other on this world, is disappearing earlier than my eyes and there may be nothing I can do about it. I hear retreatants packing their luggage, making journey plans, and starting to say goodbye to one another. Attempting to seem stoic, I merely smile, thank everybody for coming, and say goodbye to every particular person, whereas interiorly my coronary heart feels barren and alone. I’ve what I prefer to name, PRD, Submit-Retreat Despair.
Throughout every retreat, I inform everybody that it is a particular time of grace. God usually “lifts the veil” and permits us to come across him in a method that’s completely different from our extraordinary each day life expertise. Regardless of how blessed a time the retreat was, most of us should not known as to reside on the mountain alone with God. We’ve got households, jobs, and communities that, whether or not we prefer it or not, are ready for us. The important thing, I emphasize, is to combine our expertise on retreat into our each day lives.
One space of problem for individuals who had a profound expertise of God on retreat is the virtually full identification of an expertise of God with God himself. As a retreat director, I’ve witnessed numerous individuals have life-changing experiences in the middle of a retreat, particularly retreats that embody a heavy dosage of silence and solitude. After these experiences, the everyday response is, “I don’t wish to go away right here.” That is, maybe to our shock, a pure human response. Anytime we expertise something that brings pleasure, consolation, or pleasure, we don’t wish to let go of it. Actually, we regularly grasp at it and take a look at desperately to pressure it to remain.
That is demonstrated virtually verbatim within the Gospel account of the Transfiguration. Jesus has taken Peter, James, and John up a mountain, an emblem of happening retreat and getting ready the best way for a deeper encounter with God. There, in silence and solitude, Jesus is transfigured earlier than them: “his face shone just like the solar, and his clothes turned white as mild” (Mt 17:2). Within the midst of this profound encounter with the Lord, Peter proclaims, “Lord, it’s properly that we’re right here; if you want, I’ll make three cubicles right here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Mt 17:4).
Peter, in his all-too-human try to carry on to this treasured second, is mainly asking Jesus, “Do we actually have to depart?” The expertise of the transfigured Lord, like our personal deeper experiences of the Lord on retreat, is one he isn’t prepared but to let go of. A number of verses later, nevertheless, Jesus and the three chosen disciples are already coming down the mountain. Their retreat has abruptly completed and now they’re returning again to each day life.
What’s the level of the Transfiguration for the three disciples who witnessed this occasion? Shortly after the Transfiguration, Jesus’ Ardour begins. In a matter of moments, Jesus will transfer from being the transfigured Lord to the Lord who’s betrayed, overwhelmed, and crucified. The Ardour, no less than exteriorly, will seem as a contradiction of Jesus’ personal phrases that he’s “the sunshine of the world and he who follows me won’t stroll in darkness” (Jn 8:12). Finally, the Transfiguration is supposed to strengthen the religion of the disciples in order that within the midst of the confusion and darkness of the Ardour, their religion stays steadfast.
The same reasoning, I imagine, can be utilized to grasp why God provides us consoling and delightful experiences of him, whether or not it’s on retreat, throughout prayer, or simply merely in the course of our each day lives. They’re meant to strengthen us. In some ways, they’re a quiet reminder from God that our lives, regardless of what we might really feel and expertise, are ruled by God’s fatherly care. What is probably most irritating about these experiences is that we can not, regardless of our greatest efforts, management or create them. There is no such thing as a methodology of prayer, retreat director, or particular place that may trigger them to happen extra ceaselessly or within the method we want. They’re fully God’s present to us, given when and the way he sees match. Therefore, they’re meant to be obtained with pleasure and gratitude.
Although I remind retreatants of this on the finish of each retreat, I nonetheless discover myself slipping into what I’ve recognized as Submit-Retreat Despair. Regardless of the period of the retreat, I witnessed firsthand God’s love breaking extra deeply into an individual’s life. That particular person, regardless of his personal fears and struggles and generally even due to them, turns into an icon of God’s relentless pursuit, not solely of his soul however mine as properly. Like Peter, I’ve usually requested God within the silence of my very own coronary heart, “Do we actually have to depart?”
Shortly after every retreat ends, I’m separated from these with whom I spent a number of days alone on the mountain with Jesus. The intimacy, silence and peace that we shared collectively at the moment are behind us. Now, towards my very own will, I wait at an airport stuffed with strangers, noise, and exercise. Sometimes, on the flight dwelling the particular person I’m seated subsequent to will provoke some sort of non secular dialog, however usually the flight is a quiet one. I spend nearly all of the time reflecting on the previous few days and praying for these with whom I shared this journey.
There’s a temptation to imagine that after each retreat I’m now plunged again right down to the bottom of the mountain and should wait once more for the subsequent retreat to start my ascent. With this mindset, life seems as an impediment to our persevering with progress in holiness. The truth is, due to this retreat, or a deeper expertise of God usually, I’m not plunged again down on the backside as soon as it’s over, however I’m truly at a better elevation due to my expertise.
Sooner or later, God prepared, we’ll attain the height of that mountain. And so we proceed our ascent, assured that God is guiding us to the height of that mountain the place he has already ready a spot for us.
From Amid Passing Issues: Life, Prayer, and Relationship with God by Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR. © 2019 The Neighborhood of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Utilized by permission of Paraclete Press, Inc.