Retreat… Our Lives as a Special Gift
On the last week of November, the fourth year students of the College of Arts and Sciences spent a few days far away from their daily routines, far from the influence of civilization and literally away from the world. It was a challenge for us students who were not allowed to check our phones and be connected with the life we left behind. But we sure know that we were on a retreat – a special occasion seldom given to many and only a few can enjoy.
Retreat was described to us as an avenue to rekindle our ties with the Lord. It was explained to us that it is an avenue to rest, relax and feel inner peace. What we don’t know is that the retreat was a life changing event for us.
On our way to the Betania, many of us joked about the challenge we are going to face, especially that of our phones being confiscated and the long necessity for silence. We chatted all the way from Iligan to Cagayan and we slept while on the road. The moment we reached the Betania, it gave us the feeling of something mysterious and relaxing that not one of us can explain. I saw faces amazed by the structure of the Betania. It was a small paradise dedicated to finding our own inner peace. The place was almost perfect I would want to cry. The site was a form of miracle seeing that the beauty of nature is still intact despite all the harm humanity has done. That was just the start…
Our first day was definitely tiring but fun. We were greeted by the staff and were treated as part of a big home. We were also given the chance to be facilitated by Fr. Ferdie, a cool and fun priest who started the retreat with allowing us to appreciate ourselves and the gift of life. It was such a relief to find ourselves sitting in the room while listening to music and being touched by the love of the Lord. We also had a mass on the first day and it helped in soothing our busy souls. The first day was just short as we hd to go to bed and take a good night sleep.
The second day was full of activities. We were told about the power of the love of Jesus and why we should connect with him. In the morning there was grouping and we were allowed to share our experiences that helped us become who we are. We were able to share our lives to our peers and we never judged each one of them. It was something like of a confession but to people who we believe we can trust. The time was a bit short for us but we were able to understand our peers and had help in respecting them as they are. Fr. Ferdie also shared to us the story of the pencil and some videos to inspire us about time and how sometimes we forget to value the different things around us such as ourselves, our family and our friends.
In the afternoon, we were told to form a symbol depicting us as a person. It was about creating a symbol or an image of something that tells others about us. We were then told to share it to the rest of the retreatants. At first, we discovered new things about our retreat mates. Some cried and some shared their pains and aches in life. Despite the challenge of not crying, it could not be held because on that retreat we were able to lower our pride and show ourselves to others without hiding anything. That activity led us to understanding others and love ourselves even more.
After that, we were also shown different videos and Fr. Ferdie was enthusiastic about what we had shared. The greatest most revealing experience is when our creation was crushed by a random guy. He then told us that God also feels that way when we are crushed, hurt and when we take ourselves for granted. It was an eye opener and it made us realize a lot of things. The second day also had a confession for some of us and for others a lot of realization also happened.
In the evening, we were discussing about relationships and how we must handle them. It was one of the most unexpected things as we were able to reconcile with our friends who we have lost. We have given hugs to even a random retreat mate. It was heartfelt and most of all, it was sincere. A lot of friendships were rekindled, prayers were given and hearts were deeply touched.
The night ended with smiles and tears along with friendships relived. It was something not most of us could have done.
The third day was lighter than anything else, we were discussing about freedom from all the pains and how the Lord does His own actions for many of us. It ended with a short farewell with our Retreat Director and we are very thankful for the short time he spent with us.
Retreat is a time to heal wounds, to heal our hearts, to be open to things and to love ourselves. In behalf of the College of Arts and Sciences, I would like to thank the Administration for allowing this event that had made our college life complete.
Kaye Lucille Marie D. Alaba, CAS Batch 2013-2014