“Those who trust the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.” — Isaiah 40:30

I DON’T need a retreat.

These were the exact words I told myself at the start of the session with our retreat master, Fr. Raul. Considering that I was very much secure with my relationship with the Lord at this stage in my life, going on a retreat was the last thing on my mind. At least, that was what I thought.

However, my apprehensions were all erased when Fr. Raul told us about St. Benedict who chose to live in a cave alone for two years so that he may be closer to God.

I asked myself, how could a man deny himself of other people and some of life’s basic necessities all in the name of his faith? Can I follow his example?

On my own, I sincerely doubt that I could follow the path that St. Benedict has taken but as I reflect on St. Benedict’s life and his so-called two-year retreat, I began to understand how he managed to endure such sacrifice.

He was never alone during all that time. The Lord was with him.

For St. Benedict, his cave meant refuge from the struggles that one has to face in life. It was his source of strength and guidance.

In the same way, God gives us caves to help us recollect ourselves and stay on His path. These caves may be in the form of our family, friends, and even our teachers. They may also be strangers that we meet everyday. In them, we find refuge every time we feel that things are not going the way we want them. We just have to open our eyes and look for them.

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Indeed, we should not attend retreats merely because we are required to or we are in search of holiness but to allow our bodies to rest and our spirits to renew. Through these retreats, we find ourselves and God, from Whom we draw strength and inspiration.

It is not very easy to admit weakness though we feel it is time to take a break from our daily lives. It is funny that I only realized my need for a retreat after I have gone through one. I’m glad I did.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for providing us with people and circumstances as our ‘caves’ as we go through life. As we draw strength and fortitude from them, please grant us the humility to admit that we need them from time to time. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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