During my Conversion Experience Retreat (36), I was blessed with several God-encounters, of which I would like to share two significant ones. Here's the first.
During one of the sessions that we had to do in pairs, I was waiting for my sister to pair up with me. I thought she would understand my feelings the best and so, she would be the best candidate. However, she was engaged with another retreatant in the exercise and they were taking a very long time. After waiting for at least 10 minutes, another buddy directed me to Fr. William. I wasn’t too sure if it was possible to ask Fr. William to pair up with me but I mustered all the courage I needed and asked him if he would. He generously put down what he was doing and agreed.
There came a point in the exercise I was crying a whole lot. The internal pain I felt from past hurts were being externalized and it was liberating.
That night, I brought this experience to God in prayer and what came up for me were not so much the crying and the healing. Rather, it was my encounter with this compassionate Bishop. In that prayer, as I recalled him holding my hands, I relived the love, acceptance and compassion that he conveyed through his disposition. I felt like I was really precious to someone, imperfect but not judged or condemned. Only loved. It was a reflection of my Heavenly Father’s unconditional love for me.
I recognized within me the kind of touch and love that I have been searching for in a partner for so many years but never could find in all my past relationships. Then immediately, I recognized that this yearning for such a love finds its roots in the lack of love I have been experiencing all through my life. Love in the fashion that I wanted, expressed in ways of gentleness and acceptance. This brought me to a deeper understanding of myself and my tendency to search for love in ways that could not satisfy and which also further reinforced my insecurities.
Right after this realization, it struck me too that Fr. William could only hold my hands in this manner because he has chosen not to hold just one person’s hands but to make himself available to all through his priestly vocation. He made his hands available to all for God. At once, it just clicked in me. I was filled with the conviction that I too want not to hold one person’s hands in marriage but to be for all, for God. I knew that deep within me, I want to spend my life working for God’s kingdom-building with all the gifts given to me – talents, time, health, past experiences. There isn’t anything else I want my life to count for.
This was a significant breakthrough for me because for the past three years, I have been looking for a religious congregation to join after a discernment process but haven’t quite been able to set my feet in any. It was during this experience in the retreat that I felt, for the first time, a deep-rooted desire to make the vows of a religious, to be consecrated to God. It is getting clearer that God’s call for me may not be to the religious life but to religiosity, and to minister to the spiritually hungry specifically in Singapore. I am thankful that it has been made much clearer for me in this getting in touch with the desires that lie at the core of my heart.
To God be all praise and honour.