SO MANY things to do, so little time.  And although Plato said that time is but a moving symbol of a motionless eternity, I feel that, as I chase time, it continues to run out. And with all the responsibilities I have yet to do, I do not know where to begin; I just know I want things done. Thesis, editing, thesis, paying bills, thesis, extra-editorial activities, and yes, thesis. With all these in mind, I almost dared not come to our college retreat last November 17 to 19 at the Dominican-run Calaruega Retreat House in Nasugbu, Batangas.

But what initially made me go was the fact that the retreat had already been included in the school fee during enrollment and my parents would appreciate the fact that their money would not go to waste. Besides, it will give me the much-needed rest I had been longing for. Those three blissful days I spent at Caleruega did give me time not just to breathe, but also to examine myself, my relationship with others, and my relationship with God.

The activities, lectures, and the generally peaceful atmosphere (we were told to turn our phones off so that there would be no distractions) also roused me up and reconciled one of my biggest dilemmas: my self-proclaimed period of separation from Him.   

The retreat was His way of telling me to relax, take a deep breath, let go, and let Him in again, because a few weeks ago, I had been like a lost little girl barely able to go on with daily life and too busy to spend time with myself and with God.

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On the first day, Fr. Gerard “Ziggy” Zabala, O.P., one of our retreat masters, said that, at that moment, that was where God wanted us to be, and that we needed to “recharge before we break down and stop functioning altogether.”

Now, several weeks after my reunion with God, I believe that it was the right decision to go. Not only because I was able to spend time with my friends without worrying about lessons, assignments, and other responsibilities, but because I also became closer to Him, and I was able to patch things up with several blockmates with whom I had misunderstandings.

Now, I’m experiencing better days and all because I chose to come along; a reluctant decision which ultimately became the right one. 

But then again, not all of us are given the chance to regain our strength, to patch things up, or to renew our bond with God. So when life gives you that chance to recollect the broken pieces of your life—especially through a retreat or—grab it. It just might change your life.

So allow me to ask these questions. The same ones I asked myself in those days I spent in Caleruega. When was the last time you talked to God? The last time you thanked him and not prayed to ask for a favor? When was the last time you spent some time alone without worrying what tomorrow might bring? The last time you listened not to the earphones stuck in your ears but to God, asking for a slice of your precious time?

True, we all are busy with daily transactions, chores, and responsibilities. We all are chasing time and yet, time (as writer Douglas Adams said) is merely an illusion. But God is not. He makes all things possible, as long as we trust in His ways (and as long as we do our part). Let us find our inner peace; we must not let God be a stranger in our lives.

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The lights are on and the Christmas carols are playing in the background. But before we get lost in all the festivities and drown in all the deadlines we have yet to meet, we should all spend time mending our relationship with our neighbors and especially with Him, whose birth we are about to celebrate.

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