Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Reardon from TheologyisaVerb
In preparation for last Saturday’s “Seeking Joy!” retreat, one feeling pervaded, that of anticipation, and one solitary thought kept rushing to the forefront of my mind.. Why do we wait so long? In the course of our busy lives, so often we need to reach out and grasp the opportunity to step away from the rush of life in order to better see what is keeping us from our true enjoyment of it. And still, at the risk of making an overgeneralization,
I believe as women we resist taking this time- thinking that the world cannot function without us physically there to oversee and guide its operation. Guess what, that is God’s job! Just how do we do that though…how do we give God the reins to take charge of our lives and that of the world around us? This is the immeasurable gift of retreat- in taking this step away to reexamine our lives, to consider our attachments and disconnections, we make space for God’s love to reorder and transform us deep within. For, when we see who we are in Christ, and open our hearts to accept his love and mercy, then this is where the healing begins.
It is where we discover true joy, a wellspring that cannot ever truly be taken away. Likewise, God’s love does not only prompt joy for ourselves alone, but overflows and spills out into the lives of all of our families and communities as they too encounter its beauty in us.
So, wait- taking time for ourselves and God amidst the daily demands of life actually blesses those whom we love? Absolutely, it does! Looking round the room, God had brought together approximately 40 women, all of whom had awoken early this Saturday morning to learn, grow, and share in faith with one another. Through prayer, laughter, reflection, and reconciliation we became more aware of the things in our lives that are needlessly filling the space in our hearts and minds, so that we can truly love ourselves and others the way God loves us. Only then can we fully experience the peace and joy that comes from trusting in God’s promise in spite of the circumstances that so often arise in life.
So then, here are my own takeaways from this weekend!
1. Seeking the joy of God necessitates that we recognize our own unique gifts that God has given us rather than envying the gifts that others might possess. Each of us has been created for a purpose, though the details of which, we might not be aware of it just yet. When we want that which God has given others, then we fail to appreciate God’s gifts to us. Instead, our aim should be to strengthen the gifts that we have been given, whether it be speaking, listening, teaching, or guiding others in the call to holiness and in the mission and life of the Church. So, too, I would add, God grants additional charisms or gifts, when needed, if we remain open to the Holy Spirit and God’s will in our lives.
2. Making space for God means identifying that which seeks to steal our joy, and serves to distance us from God and those we love. When we shed these things, quite profoundly through reconciliation, we open ourselves up to God at work in our everyday. Then we start seeing God too in the little things that we do that also provide countless joy in the lives of others.
3. This is what God wants for us! We were not created to live in sorrow, though we all experience this at some point in our lives. We all know that with Christ’s birth the heavens rejoiced, so too is God’s joy for each one of us. Yet, the things of this world will bring us but temporary happiness, but God’s joy is eternal. When we surrender our hearts, trust, and allow God to take the lead, we will find true joy at last.
“Let this experience imprinted in the Gospel, be imprinted in our hearts and in our lives. Let the joyous wonder of Easter Sunday radiate through our thoughts , looks, attitudes , gestures and words ..." Pope Francis (Regina Coeli address, Apr. 22, 2014.)
In Peace and Joy,