Tuesday, July 12, 2011
So, one more post about the retreat. I hope you are not yet tired. It was for me an amazing and affirming experience.
After arriving at the Oratory at Rock Hill and some confusion with one car with the luggage missing, we all settled nicely back in our little retreat house. I say little, but it honestly was not so little. A nice big kitchen, dining room, living room, two bathrooms and 6 bedrooms, plus a sleeping attic. We started with dinner. A simple pasta with jarred sauce and a fresh salad.
After that, we handed out our jars. They turned out to be a huge hit, as well as a conversation opener. After that, I read "The Love Story of God and Man" to them, to get them situated with their bibles. Then we started our first evening off with a bible study about Loving God, what love means, what God means when he talks of love and so on. All went, not just smoothly, but.. peacefully and unexpectedly deep. I was touched by the willingness of our teenagers to be vulnerable before each other as they contemplated scripture.
Then we played "Jesus hide and seek". Which is just plain hide and seek with the one searching designated as Jesus and us as disciples who are supposed to follow but hide from Him and the truth instead. There were surprisingly many hiding places and we had great fun.
Board games came after and then the evening was ended with an unplanned rosary. I asked if anyone wanted to join into my evening rosary, and.. they all wanted to! It was slightly funny at times, as well as touching, because well, I am used to recite the rosary in Dutch. Now I was supposed to lead it in English. Of course I know the prayers in English, but the.. rhythm so to speak isn't there. So a few times they had to help me out. We went to bed glaringly late, past one am.
The next morning started with showers, breakfast (elaborate and made by us: biscuits, eggs, cereal, fruit), discipleship activities and a workshop on how we tend to put God in a box. Then there was mass, lunch, a water balloon fight, free time and a second workshop about prayer, devotions and traditions. This one was a bit harder as everyone was getting pretty sleepy. After that there was some more free time and dinner. I made chili. The students helped chopping, setting the table etc. Then they went on for some more discipleship activities before dinner. After dinner there was a board game battle, and we went to bed... slightly earlier.
On the third day we had a breakfast again, cleaned out our retreat cottage, had a third workshop about choices that need to be made to lead a truly catholic life, and about the steps they want and need to take. This one was a great success. After that we had mass one more time, lunch with two of the oratory priests and we ended the retreat with a 'web of compliments'.
I know it sounds probably like a boring enumeration of what we did, but the beauty of it were the conversations, the searching, the choice of the students, the quiet and the boldness. We already had several requests to please do it again! I enjoyed it. I felt spiritually renewed. But I was also very glad to be back with my boys again.