SHH!!!! We are on silent retreat!

When I first heard about the 8 day silent retreat, I got scared. Honestly, I thought to myself, “They are going to leave me alone with my crazy thoughts by myself for 8 days!!??” In the words of St. Therese “AH!”

There we were on Feb 18 tucked away in the snow covered mountains of Camp Tepeyac in Prescott, AZ. That night we started our silence. I was only allowed to talk to two people: God and my spiritual director named “Word” – Edward actually.  The 8-day retreat was based off of spiritual exercises by St. Ignatius, but it seems the Lord had different plans for me. The exercises we just not fitting with my spirituality and became very frustrating for me – at least at this point in my life they were not meant for me.
This retreat was definitely still fruitful for me, but in a different way. During the first few days I didn’t feel that way.  I was very confused and worried with why I could not do the exercises. However, the grace of God pursued me and God spoke to me when I least expected it.  Do you wanna know what he said? Well your going to have to wait!  These 8 days of silence were for sure a blessing to really slow down and experience God in the quite still moments.
Like I said before, Word and I figured out that the exercises weren’t for me and then we went from there. I spent many days doing what I wanted to do on the retreat.  Several days I took long hikes and once I would get to the top of a mountain, I would do praise and worship by myself.  It was beautiful! Close your eyes and imagine you are on top of a snow covered mountain where you can see probably 200 miles then sing your heart out to the Lord who created all of it – and me! AH- breathtaking (not to mention the high altitude). So my days would consist of doing personal prayer, praise & worship, meditating on scripture and I loved it.

A week before I went on retreat, I gave a talk on discerning vocations at St. Tim’s.  I used this verse from the Prophet Jeremiah and it was in my mind on the retreat:

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the LORD, and I will change your lot;”
Jeremiah 29: 11-14

“Yes when you seek me with ALL your heart you will find me with you.” Lord how have I not been seeking you with ALL of my heart!!?  What more can I do for you Lord?  Father I have given up so much in your name.  I have been rejected by family & friends, moved across the country, and helped minister to the youth.  I have chosen to pick up my cross daily for you my Lord!
Then I realized I feel like I’m blind in my spirituality – not knowing how the Lord is working or even or even if He is pleased with me.   Then Scripture verses just started sticking out to me.  This verse from the Gospel of Mark really struck me:
“They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.  On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”  Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”  So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.  “He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.  Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”  The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”  Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”  Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. Mark: 46-52

So many times in my faith and this journey that the Lord has given me, I feel blind – straight up scared and abandoned on the side of the road like Bartimaeus.  But it is through that blind faith that these miracles are able to have happened.  Throughout my retreat I was crying out to the Lord: “Jesus son of David, have pity on me!”  And the Lord asked me, “What do you want me to do for you?”  I responded strong and confidently by asking for mercy for I am a poor sinner wanting for my eyes to be healed and to know I am loved.
“I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight.These things I do for them, and I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16

“By paths unknown I will guide them.”  The Lord works in truly amazing and unknown ways but, the most important thing is that He will lead the blind.Obviously He has ever since my conversion moment: making crooked ways straight.  I am thankful for the simple truths that the Lord reveals to me everyday and also even as I’m writing this now.  There are some things that need to be kept between me & the Lord also.  I feel the best way to close this up is posting my journal entry from the last day of the retreat.

P.S.  It’s OK to be silent. Ha ha!

Thursday February 25,2010

Last Day of silent retreat. In a couple of hours I won’t be silent anymore. In fact I think I will be quite loud.  On this retreat the Lord has revealed to me to seek him in the quite moments.  That intimacy takes two people in a relationship, and most of all that I am His beloved son in whom he is well pleased. I know something so easy, so simple, but sometimes we just forget when we are all caught up in doing stuff.  I forgot that I am his beloved in whom He is well pleased.  Through all my downfalls, imperfections, and corney jokes, He still loves me unconditionally.  As far as discernment goes, He has made me at peace with just being missionary here & now.

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J.M.J,

Jon

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