Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually
— 1 Chronicles 16:11
This weekend, while on retreat, I'd walk down the hall from my room to be with Jesus in the tabernacle of the chapel. We spoke like I'd speak to my friends. I smiled and looked at the tabernacle when I saw something cute or funny as if, like an old friend, I knew He'd be giggling too. I spoke with Him about my worries, my insecurities, my fears. I thanked Him for all His blessings, for the opportunity to be with Him in this way. Many times, I just sat in silence, we sat in silence, Him and I, just being with each other, just hanging out. I felt myself growing closer to the Lord.
Friday night, after dinner and the talks, I changed into my pajamas and walked to the chapel to say hello. I walked the stations briefly. Then, as I sat down, there was a rosary in the pew. I could feel Him winking, egging me on. I'll do just one decade, I thought to myself, exhausted from the trip.
Ended up doing the whole rosary. It felt nice.
On Saturday morning I walked into the chapel and He was with a priest, who happened to be celebrating a solo mass. I figured I'd stick around. Any friend of Jesus is a friend of mine. We both received Him together. Very nice.
Later, in the retreat house library, I had picked up an old book called "Teach Us to Pray." I turned to page 18. This is what it said:
"Our words hide things, instead of reveal them."
It went on to describe how full of wonder we are when we see an unknown flower, bird or insect. We stare and marvel at our ignorance of it, how we long to soak it in, get to know it. That continues until we are told or reminded of its name. Once we know it, we stop getting to know it. We don't know it anymore. This moved me. I can ramble on and on, then complain why I never hear Jesus talk back. I can repeat prayers and yet feel a dryness when I am done and get up to go. I've given Him little chance lately to communicate back to me. How can I get to know a friend if I don't let Him share something with me? How can I grow closer to someone I truly don't really know.
I felt small. I felt embarrassed.
So I walked back to the chapel and sat in silence with Jesus, because as much as I'd like to say I know Him, fact is I don't even know the half of it. What I don't know, what I don't understand of Him, is vast.
I came back various time that day. We spent time together. No one else walked into the chapel during these times. It was as if Jesus alerted everyone that He didn't want the chapel to be disturbed, since His good friend, Ivy, had come into town.
Sunday was my last day. I spent the morning with Him in silence. We'd grown closer in these last few visits, but I knew that once I stepped out into the outside world, my time would be monopolized. This saddened me greatly. I went through the morning feeling very disconnected. When it was time to go, I dragged my luggage out of my room and left it right by the chapel door.
I walked in, blessed myself, but instead of sitting down in one of the pews, I sat on the step leading to the sanctuary. I cried.
I told him,
Jesus, we had such a great time this weekend. We had alone moments I would've never dreamed of having back home. That's where I'm going now, back home, back to the normal. Funny thing is that You are my reality and I know where to find you. But I know it won't be like this for a while. Please keep me close to you. Call my name so I don't just wave and pass by. I want to sit with You, be with You, talk, or not. Just be with YOU.
I remained quiet for a while, hoping that He would reveal something to me.
And He did.
In His gentle manner, He told me something sad. I prefer not to share it. Let's call it a secret. But I'll share His advice.
He reminded me that I was now in a sort of tabernacle, this retreat, joined with Christ in a most special way. When I leave, I'll be joined to Him in a different way. My eyes were moved to my Friend on the cross. This world is a cross. He invited me to get up on a cross, to suffer this world.
"But when you're tired," He said, "when you have no more strength, get off and come meet Me here, at the tabernacle. I'll help you get right back on the cross."
I left with a mix of emotions. How could one not be filled with all kinds of feelings when one encounters the Lord. There's no describing all those things I felt. One thing I can say for certain, is that I was a little more prepared for the outside. And each time I visit my Brother, my Friend, Jesus, He will keep filling me with strength and courage, perseverance and most certainly, love.
For how could anyone face the world, our crosses without a heart full of love for Jesus and His people.
Visit Jesus in the tabernacle.
Go be with Him at a Holy Hour.
When you get there, sit, and be silent,
...and never stop visiting Him.
His doors are always open.