For the past three years I have helped to lead a retreat for young adults at our Jesuit Retreat House in Atlanta. The last one was about a month ago. The other day, the woman who works at our retreat house (who really does the bulk of the work for the retreat) wrote me, sending along an attachment. You wrote this really nice letter last year, she wrote, and I’d like to send it out again. At first, I didn’t even remember having written the letter! Then, I opened it, and started to wonder anew if I had even written it! It was a really nice letter! Thoughtful, well-written and offering some pretty good advice. Some advice, I thought, that I could do well to remember myself! Here I am, I thought with a smile, giving myself some well-needed advice! It was a great grace. And even though by then I had remembered writing the letter, I still found myself a bit incredulous: did I really write that?
Here’s an excerpt from that letter that perhaps you might find helpful, especially if you need to be reminded of a good experience you had with God, and the people that were there with you:
” . . . I know that your choice to come on retreat was only one of many you have yet to make. I invite you to let one of those be to be deliberate about remembering the graces of your retreat experience. Many of you expressed the desire to hold onto the consolations of the weekend, but you also shared your fear that the many cares of your lives might make this difficult. So, let this letter serve as a reminder to set aside some time to reflect, to journal, and to speak with others about what this weekend meant to you. Pay attention to what struck you the most, and begin to ask: Why? What is God trying to tell me?
This process of discovery will be helped by such things as attending mass more regularly, and finding a group of peers also seeking what God desires for their lives. I also encourage you to find a spiritual director whom you can meet with on a regular basis. The spiritual director won’t tell you what to do, but will help you to see the direction in which God is leading you. You might also try to make a silent retreat of 3 to 5 days. Silence makes room for God like nothing else. Ignatius House can provide you assistance with both these things.
If you made a friend this weekend—or a few—do more than just Facebook each other. Get together, and get to know each other better. Do the same with God. Get out of the house, and meet God away from your everyday distractions! You’ve undoubtedly found that upon returning home from the retreat, your life hasn’t changed as much as you’d hoped. There are still many of the same challenges. But there is also something new happening. This is the beginning, as the prophet Jeremiah speaks about, of “a future full of hope.” That hope lies in your choice to let this be not just a pleasant weekend, but one of your life’s turning points. Trust that God, with your help, will make the change you need happen. But pray also for patience with the fact that this may happen in God’s time, and not as immediately as you would like . . .”
This was something that I know I need to hear right now, and there are things here which I know I need to continually remind myself of. And just leave it to God, that infinite trickster, to send me a reminder, using my own words! God is good, and doesn’t have a half-bad sense of humor.