Two weeks ago I was at a four-day silent Ignatian retreat for women. For introverts a silent retreat is a brief experience of heaven on earth. We were all present to and with one another, yet without the spoken word. I had not been on retreat for myself in more years than I could remember, so it was time. I was aware that I was being guided to accept the invitation for retreat.
One of the conferences led by the retreat director was titled: “God’s Love For Me”. A reading from Isaiah was read, Isaiah 43: 1-7. The retreat director provided quotes from scripture for us to reflect on and write about in our journals. Two quotes caught my deeper awareness and attention: “ I have called you by name: you are mine” and “ You are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you.” We were asked to reflect on “what is God like as God says these words to you?” Another question was “What does God feel as God speaks these words to you” and “What are your reactions as you listen to and look at God?” I always close my eyes when I pray, except when I walk outside and pray. I had not imagined looking at God. Since grade school we were taught to be humble and humility was lowering your eyes in prayer. The idea of looking at God was different and one I was genuinely open to try in this time of reflection. In those moments of experiencing unconditional love and acceptance, we often do not have words for what that experience is like, we just “know” it and that was what this experience was like in that time of reflection.
Imagine yourself now, in an intentional time of quiet, because in the silence is where we encounter God, and you open your eyes and there God is, you’re in the presence of God the father, Jesus or the Spirit. Allow yourself to pause and what do you notice? If it is Jesus, what do you notice about his face, his eyes, what color are they? What is it like being in God’s presence in this way? Allow yourself to really experience the love flowing from God to you. I sat by the water at the retreat center, in that silent awareness, and there were no words.
God is LOVE, what is God as LOVE asking of me? With the eyes of awareness we can look within our families and notice what is LOVE asking of me? We can look within our neighborhoods and communities and ask what is LOVE asking of me? We are also being given the invitation to look within ourselves and ponder, what is LOVE (God) asking of me? In her book, Out of the Ordinary, Joyce Rupp says, “In our journeying, we need a strong conviction about the beauty and goodness of life, a vision of hope that endures the pain and struggle, and a thread of love that weaves through all of our dreams.” LOVE is woven into the fabric of our human nature and LOVE always invites us to be that LOVE for others. We have numerous opportunities to be that LOVE and we know without doubt when LOVE is absent, or when LOVE is being used to hurt others or LOVE’s existence is being challenged by the unloving behaviors and words we hear and see. The invitation is again being offered, in this moment, “As the Father has loved me, I have loved you.” Now go and bring the presence of LOVE to those you encounter today and everyday. “ I have called you by name: you are mine. You are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you.”