My Eight-Day Retreat: Part 2
“I don’t enjoy praying for a whole hour,” I admitted to Father Roshan on the third morning of my eight-day retreat.
His eyes widened for half a second. But he didn’t question me. He just kept listening.
“I told Jesus how difficult it is for me to be present and sit still for a whole hour. Jesus said he knows and is grateful that I keep showing up.
“Eventually I realized what keeps me from true abandonment is doing things. I think that I’m responsible for fixing myself when I see a weakness or a sin. But Jesus said, ‘You don’t have to do anything. Just receive my love.'”
Father Roshan smiled.
“In my next prayer period, Jesus invited me to be okay with the silence. ‘Just receive. Don’t do a thing,’ he said. ‘Breathe in my love.’
“In my fourth prayer–the passage on the lilies of the field in Luke 12:22-31–these words stood out for me.
Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.
“I realized that I was afraid–afraid that the eight days would go by and nothing significant would happen. But here was Jesus reminding me, I’m his dearest friend and I won’t be disappointed.”
Father Roshan asked me to pray a third time with Psalm 139 and Isaiah 43:1-3–one in each prayer period–and again with the Luke 12:22-31. In each of these prayers, I was to return to the moment when I had the deepest felt experience of God’s love. This was a stretch because, except for the first day, I didn’t feel any strong emotions, only calm or restless. My fourth prayer was to be a prayer of imagination with Luke 7:36-50.
I biked home by way of Kits beach and enjoyed the cool ocean breeze. Cyclists coming the other way greeted me and smiled. God was everywhere seeing me and loving me.
Back home again, I showered and had a short nap then sat down to pray. In the first prayer period, I returned to an image I’d been given earlier, of floating in an ocean of God’s love. I floated, looked at my clock every ten minutes or so, and tried to simply rest and receive. “Enjoy this,” Jesus whispered.
The next prayer period began as slowly and uneventfully. Eventually, Jesus got up and opened a door into another world and invited me to follow him. In this place, I could see everyone on earth. I saw God intimately and actively working in each of their lives–redeeming, healing, comforting, empowering, inspiring them and bringing them home.
“I’m doing it all; you don’t need to do a thing,” he said again.
“But I want to,” I said, achingly bored.
“Then know it’s already happening. It happens as you rest, as you abide in me.”
My prayers continued to be calm, without much emotion. Even in the prayer when I imagined myself washing and anointing Jesus’ feet, I had no tears. So I got some water in a bucket and used that.
Simon scowled, “She’s not that sorry or grateful. Look at her. Not a tear.”
Jesus rose up indignant. “Watch what you’re saying. You have no idea how many tears she’s shed.”
At that, I burst into tears. I felt defended, understood and deeply loved–just as I was.
Just Sit There Right Now
Just sit there right now.
Don’t do a thing.
For your separation from God,
Is the hardest work
Let me bring you trays of food
That you like to
You can use my soft words
As a cushion
- How do you feel when Jesus asks you to just be with him and don’t do a thing?
- Are you ever bored or restless during prayer? How does Jesus respond to you when you feel that way?
- Is there an image, word or phrase in my story today that evoked a noticeable feeling in you? Welcome that feeling with Jesus. Notice his compassion. Is there something God wants to bring into the light to comfort, encourage or heal you?
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FAQs about My Eight-Day Retreat
- Where did you have your retreat?
In the past, as you may recall, I stayed at a retreat centre (Rosemary Heights in Surrey [now closed], Carmel Hill in Deroche, and Queen of Peace in Squamish), and the retreat director stayed there too. Except for when it was in Squamish, the director travelled back and forth to Richmond for supervision. This year, however, because Father Roshan doesn’t drive, we needed to travel to him. Only three of us were participating this year and each of us elected to retreat at home.
- How was it organized?
Father Richard Soo, SJ, who oversees the Jesuit Spirituality Apostolate of Vancouver’s Ignatian Exercises in Daily Life (Annotation 19) and supervises the dozen or so directors who lead people through the exercises, arranges for us to have an eight-day silent directed retreat annually.