I Found the Linchpin!

Ang kailangan ko lang pala, isang taimtim na reflection.

It was awkward at first because my block looked forward to the retreat thinking we could finally have a solemn time with each other. But then, we were with other blocks and I heard lots of complaints during the first day. In the end, we realized that it doesn’t really matter, and that it was actually more fun to spend several days with the people dearest to you, and people who share the same aspirations as yours.

Anyways. I feel enlightened. For the past few days, I felt really bad and incomplete. It’s as if the world was turning against me, and I had no choice except to live in a world full of pains, bitterness, and the feeling of dissatisfaction. The retreat made me realize a lot, more than what I actually expected.

We went to Caleruega Retreat House in Nasugbu, Batangas. It was a huge place, and I was so enchanted to be there because of the wonderful and serene environment. Words kept playing in my mind along the way. I thought about reflecting all by myself, and although I had quality time with my inner self, I found it more fulfilling to share my emotions with others.

It was emotionally draining. In those short three days, I found myself crying over several activities. It’s not forced, and it’s something I haven’t done for a long time.

The first night was a sharing: 6-Word Memoir, Life Scale, and an emblem of our lives. All throughout the long night, my block mates shared their frustrations, negative emotions mostly, and their expectations. Gratitude was overflowing as people thanked their friends, and their blockmates – our blockmates, for being part of their lives. I know four years may be short, but it doesn’t really depend on the quantity of time, because indeed, in our journey together as part of Journalism section two, we learned to accept each others differences and realized the importance of friendship in this world full of deadlines, and paper works. As for my part, I did not intend to share what I have said, but it just came out of my mouth and I realized all the negative emotions I had kept to myself. I never told anyone exactly everything that has been happening, but my tears expressed the pains I feel. And after releasing those emotions, I felt a little lighter. I found myself connecting my experience to those of my block mates. Say for instance, Issa’s, Shek’s, Debbie’s, Alex’s and Gel’s. Parts of their stories were somehow related to mine, and gee. I realized how spiritually weak I am, and that I am not alone because there were people who are also suffering the same spiritual crisis that I have right now. When my blockmates shared a part of their lives, they also gave others the chance to be judged, but it did not happen, because trust and friendship was in the air that night. Our burdens may be heavy, but being with each other made it lighter. I never realized that talking and listening could be such a wonderful match!

It did not end there because day two was more emotionally challenging. I swear, I couldn’t help but cry in that activity about love. We were asked to form two circles, and I was part of the inner circle. People standing in front of us shall say good things about us, people sitting, for ten seconds. It started fun, with Emkei. But slowly, things became more personal, and I couldn’t hold back my tears. As my friends whisper the good things they admire in me, and utter several thank you’s, I felt so appreciated. That even though I am very “masungit” in class, they appreciate my efforts to bind us together. Sometimes, they call me “Nanay”, and although it could be associated with words like “dictator, bossy, nagger, always angry”, I find inner joy when they say that they call me that way because “I always take care of them”. It felt good, honestly. So good, and touching, and inspiring that if I could live more college years with them and be their friend and class president, I’d gladly accept, and I promise, I’ll lessen my “kasungitan”. I love them, I really do. As they faced me, hugged me, and told me good things, I realized that no matter how irritating they could be in terms of class responsibilities, I couldn’t go on in college without them, because they make me feel alive and it’s like I have a personal purpose on them.; The second round was a bit hard, I confess. Because I don’t go on life and think about all the good qualities each of my blockmates have, particularly to Bon and Jerome. Although I appreciate them, their presence, and the good things they always do for me, I was at loss for words and I realized that I also took some people for granted. To those people, someday I’ll say good things in ten seconds, without lag for you. That experience was very fun, and overwhelming. Some of my blockmates even requested to repeat the activity next week for our Team Building-slash-Christmas Party. 🙂

There were other activities on the second day, but really, I couldn’t define them and encapsulate them in my own words because I feel like it really ain’t enough. But then again, I’d like to say that the part where Issa said that God is the big bird in our lives, and we are the small birds hit me. She’s right. All along, God wanted to be a part of us, but we choose to be with other people. And although it could be possible to be with God and be with our dearest friends at the same time, we don’t easily do it. And yet again, no matter how we try to ignore or stay away from God, He will always and forever be there for us. Which brings me to another realization, I miss the reflection days with my girlfriends, when we share unnoticeable our spiritual lives with others. My friends IS a good bunch of faithful people, and they really IS a good catch! 🙂

And then the confession. Honestly, it’s been a while and I felt cleansed after confessing, a little crying, and napping. Haha! 🙂 I also felt grateful when my whole block participated in the presentation, we did this “Boom Shakalaka-Rararara” tribe dance. We look cute, I swear. And the least I could care about was winning. Right then and there, it felt good to be with them, and to share irreplaceable moments with the people you spend every single day of your college life with. At the end of the day, even though the bonfire and the rain failed us, I saw another set of good deeds. Some of our friends got sick, asthma mostly, and I saw how people worried and tried to take care of them. It was really good to see such a kind act, and really, my friends won’t let each other down on purpose.

The last day was kind of sad, though, because I thought about going back to the same old world I am living. But Fr. Allen changed it. Because even though I read many posts in social networking sites that rant about the fact that after the retreat, they are also going back to the reality of paper works and deadlines, I found myself smiling and thinking that I could do it in a week – finish all tasks, and organize a year-ender bonding for my block. I also felt like although there is no total reset in my life, I can make it happy by making good memories, and looking on the positive side, which can be hard, but certainly worth the try. I am actually excited for the new beginning. 😉

And one more thing, I finally found satisfaction in my spiritual endeavor. For the past months, since summer break I think, I found myself attending mass because it was just an obligation. And although I feel incomplete if I miss Sunday obligations, I don’t think I am spiritually well, then. I am no longer serving the church. I am no longer active in my church organization, where I belong since the 5th grade; and I am no longer participating in the lector’s ministry. I don’t find fulfillment in the homily, honestly. And I end up getting sleepy in the middle of the mass. I tried to recollect myself and feel God’s presence again by working on my relationship with him, but I failed. For the past few months, God is not a friend. Not a stranger. But only an acquaintance. However, after the Holy Mass, and the whole experience package that the retreat allowed me to have, I felt positive that I could bring myself back to the track; that I could do things again like uttering my personal prayers everyday, and not just do the sign of the cross and consider it a prayer; that I could go to the mass, listen to the homily, and find myself talking to God, and not judge the priest presiding the mass; that I could certainly talk to God and think of Him first before I succumb in deep distress and negative feelings. Gee. I am not alone, and I really love God. I will do my best to make Him part of me again. I will surrender my worries and fears, because He will never ever leave me, and will always and forever walk with me in this life.

And guess what, I really loved the retreat and given the chance, I’d be glad to participate in one again! It’s my first time, by the way. After all the tears, I feel renewed and blessed and loved! Along with all the photos, and the sharings, and the lessons, I will start to live my life in a new perspective because my friends and blockmates made it possible, because my family made it possible, because God made it possible. 🙂 I am happy. Very happy!

P.S. I really appreciate all the retreat letters, and although I did not have the idea of how to make one, I am so glad I’ve got personal messages. Some were even from people from other sections, unexpected but sweet! 🙂 And Gee, Gel’s was epic, made me cry after I wake up from a long sleep. God is good! I am a good person. I am not alone. 🙂 God is my life coach, God is the linchpin that I’ve been looking for, for a very long time. 🙂 Finally, I found Him! ♥

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