A silent retreat

I just came back from a 3-day silent retreat and it was an interesting experience to say the least. There is so much to share and I think if I just let myself ramble on, it would be an extremely long post so I'll just focus on the more interesting bits. Then again, this is my blog, so we shall see how this goes.

So I read about this in a book earlier in the year, and from all the positive testimonies in it, I thought it would be a good idea to try this out myself. It's quite a novelty to boot.

Day 1

On the morning of the first day, I sat in the beautiful garden, looked at all the beautiful plants and wrote a couple of haikus. Kinda felt I was channelling my inner Robert Frost. Then I tried to put together a sonnet titled "Words" that was inspired from the Book of Proverbs that I'd been reading the night before.

After lunch, I was due to meet my Spiritual Director. So as part of the retreat, we are to dialogue with a Spiritual Director who would guide the retreatant (i.e. the person going for the retreat) into a deeper journey into God's presence.

That was interesting.

I'd decided before going for this retreat that I would not come out to her. Stranger and all, I thought it would serve us both better if we just stuck to the topic of God and whatever He'd like to reveal to me. Of course God has an interesting sense of humour and near the end of the hour long dialogue, she talked about how we are created in the likeness of God and even mentioned Psalm 139 (I talked a bit about this in an earlier post.) For a moment I was like, "God, I can't handle this."

She was sensitive, or perhaps it was part of procedure, and she asked me if there was weighing me down. Am I such an open book? I, of course, told her I'd prefer not to talk about it. And she reassured me that everything was confidential and in my mind I was like, "Okay, she's safe, you can come out to her tomorrow. Or perhaps on the last day."

Then the session with her ended and I went back to the garden and sat around a bit. After dinner, I decided on a whim to catch the sunset on the balcony. 

As I stared at the stunning sky before me, I felt a still, small voice whispering, "Accept yourself for who you are." That was interesting. Because very often when I get promptings from God, I can't decide if it's God's voice, Satan's voice, or my voice. But I was so sure that that voice by the sunset was from God. 

Still, I struggled with that for quite a while even as the sun edged ever lower on the horizon. It probably was the remnants of the previous fortnight where I thought that my being gay was disordered. 

After that, I wrote a haiku about the sunset, showered, and then went to bed after reading a bit of The Message. 

Day 2

I was due to meet my Spiritual Director earlier the next day, not too long after breakfast. So I shared about the voice that spoke during sunset and she was quite affirming. 

We discussed a couple more things, and strangely enough, I teared up quite a few times during the session but blinked away the tears. I wondered if she noticed. 

It was a fruitful session. Nonetheless, when she said "God just wants you to be happy," and repeated that a few times, in my mind, I was like, "She doesn't know what she is talking about."

"What about Caitlyn Jenner? I suppose she is happy now. But is that right? I want to have a girlfriend too, and that might make me happy, but does God really want me to be happy?"

But I wasn't there to argue theology with her, so I kept these thoughts to myself. I concede that God does want us to have joy and that's different from happiness, but that's another post for another day. 

Ah well. I didn't imagine things would be so intense. Still, the session ended amicably, probably due to a lack of what I didn't say, and the rest of the day went by nicely. 

I went for a walk by the nearby canal, saw a gorgeous blue kingfisher, composed yet another haiku in my mind, went back for dinner, showered, and then to bed. 

Day 3

The last day. I went for another walk after breakfast because I was bored of looking at the garden. This time, it was a much longer walk, probably about twice the distance of the first. 

On my way back, I was arrested by the sight of a majestic green raintree. I felt God impressing in my heart that I am like a tree, and all the other related metaphors that go along with it. That was nice. 

Shared about that experience with the Spiritual Director and was affirmed yet again. As it was the last session, I asked her about the difference between Christian meditation and Buddhist meditation and also inquired about the book, "The Cloud of Unknowing" which is probably one of the most difficult books I've ever read and have not yet finished. 

Then after another couple of hours, as soon as it began, the retreat ended.

Conclusion

It was an fruitful time and I really got to hear quite clearly from the Lord more than usual and I'm grateful for that. Perhaps it might have been more helpful for me if I'd come out to my Spiritual Director, but I wasn't gonna take any chances with a seemingly conservative, old Christian lady. Been judged too many times before and I can't really take much more of it. Still, it was a good time and a good break from work. A final plus point is how I found myself less glued to my phone after I got back to city life. Yay.

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