Week 3 sounds so docile and meek, like it happened quickly and in the blink of an eye. But Week 3 in Ignatian 9 Month Retreat speak means four weeks of contemplating the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.
I know, yikes!
Yesterday, I finished the last week of Week 3, and I experienced a passing through and growth in my self and in wisdom.
Week 3 was tough. Mary, my spiritual director, mentioned that most people experience fatigue at this point. I've been experiencing fatigue throughout this retreat so it was nothing new. But the thing that I was unprepared for was the depth of mourning and grieving I would do for the suffering I had experienced in my past and present life.
I've been learning a lot about suffering--the nature of suffering, what suffering does to us, the gift of suffering, how to experience suffering. I know it's not a light topic, and it probably seems odd for someone in their 20s to be thinking so much about suffering. But it's so human--our need to understand and find a way through our pain. It doesn't seem odd to me. Although I didn't expect to learn so much about suffering in this retreat, in a way, it was what I needed all along. I needed answers and a space to mourn; I needed a way to deal and live. I needed the space to find my self and honor it.
Some of the wisdom I've gained/others that have been reaffirmed:
- Experiencing our own suffering with more depth and honesty allows us to be more fully human.
- God never wants us to suffer. God wants us to be deeply alive.
- Stop the pretending; the energy poured into making something work. Trust your restlessness, your need for something more.
- Suffering happens. Most of the time, there is no explanation. It's not rational.
- Our essential needs, the things that make us desire to really live, need to be honored above all else.
- My reactions are not your reactions. Your reactions are not my reactions. I don't ever need to compare my reaction to yours and wonder if it's "right." If it doesn't feel right for me, it's not right.
Peace to my readers. Thank you for sharing in my journey.