WHEN the Ignatian Spirituality and Formation Office (ISFO) of Ateneo de Davao University reminded me of my scheduled time for silence, prayer, and reflection two weeks ago, I did not think of canceling it to beat work deadlines and attend to other commitments. I said this was the only opportunity to have a quiet time away from the city, pampering my heart and soul.

So, the moment when I arrived at St. Ignatius Spirituality Center (SISC), Barangay ADECOR, Kaputian, Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte last January 10, 2023, I felt the dancing beach welcoming me and the fresh air embracing me, reminding me how life is so good. I realized that if we just choose not to be preoccupied with work deliverables and enjoy solitude with God, we can feel in our hearts the abundance of God's love.

And the plenary sessions for input enlightened me that God did not ever leave me but instead listened to all my prayers. I loved the story about blind Bartimaeus calling for Jesus while in the crowd, believing that Jesus would heal him. Even though the people around tried to silence him, he remained to call Jesus. This has moved me; indeed, when chasing tough after God, we must not pay attention to the crowd; we must not let anyone silence us.

But what is so fulfilling is to listen to myself sharing how God works in my life during the spiritual conversation, which I have failed to do for years. Oh, I was so busy doing tedious tasks, but I did not realize that God was helping me to finish them. God gives me the strength to wake up at four o'clock in the morning and be in school before seven every day. God gives me the passion for working harder when I almost give up. It is God that lifts me when I fail.

Much more fulfilling is to listen to my coworkers' sharing their encounters. It is not true when we think God has forsaken us because we experience many struggles. Sometimes we think God is unfair. But I was ashamed of God when I heard my coworkers during the spiritual conversation in small groups and fruitful sharing. Ahh...I thought I had the worst experience, not knowing that others also have bad and sad encounters.

And I felt that God was beside us while we were sharing. The holy spirit touches our souls to open our hearts and share our burdens with the group and how God has saved us. We have learned that our struggles differ, we cry less or more, but God has never forsaken us. It is true that we have dreams and wishes that until now remain a dream, but God always has a reason to delay them because God has a plan for us best than what we are asking. So, we must be faithful and allow God to work on us.

Yes, the two-day overnight recollection pampered my soul and is unforgettable. We were so tired; some slept when we were on the bus going to SISC. But while departing SISC, I heard some hoping the recollection did not end so fast. Oh, I feel the same. Thank you so much to our retreat guides, Ma'am Liza Lao, and Ma'am Mary Ann Mendoza; without you two, we could not have realized the "blind Bartimaeus" in us. Oh, I hope the ten retreatants and our caring retreat guides will meet again to share about our triumphs in pursuing God even when things get in our way. Care for a coffee?