By Rachel Cantrell (Rachel is a freshman great texts major from Houston, TX, a member of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and she attended Bear Awakening 11.)
The week after Easter seemed to be the longest one of the semester. It didn’t really make sense, because it was only a four-day week and one after a holiday at that. Yet those four days seemed to be packed with more papers, quizzes, and tests than midterm week. There was also another thing in the future that made the days seem to go by with all the speed of frozen molasses… Awakening. Awakening is one of those things that is talked about but never explained. For 8 long months us “Un-Awakened” heard about how this weekend retreat would change our lives, enflame our hearts, and in vigor our souls, yet never actually heard how. Those last 4 days were the longest to wait, and my fellow retreaters and I anticipated a weekend we would never forget.
Boy were they right.
It was a weekend filled with laughter, prayer, love, smiles, tears, joy, healing, and most of all, Christ. All of the surprises ended up enhancing our experience, and as the weekend went on we were immersed more and more into the love of Christ. Every staffer there seemed to have that one purpose in mind. Personally, I have never been on a retreat so prayerfully put together and lovingly executed. Every moment was thought out, and it left those experiencing Awakening for the first time to do just that. “God’s time” helped a lot. On Friday, once we arrived at the retreat, we were asked to give up our cell phones, watches, and anything else that let us communicate with the outside world, for we were on “God’s time.” The distraction-free atmosphere was relaxing and we were able to really and truly be present to what was going on around us.
My one of my favorite parts of the retreat was Adoration Saturday night. The room was dark, and the only source of light came from the altar where the Beloved Sacrament stood. I don’t know how long we sat there and praised Him, but it was one of the most peaceful moments I had experienced in a very long time. When introducing myself at the beginning of the weekend, I said that I wanted this weekend to be a “red-bull” for the soul, and I definitely got a shot of energy during that time with our Lord. Gazing upon the face of Jesus seems more real than anything of this world, and I would have loved to stay there forever.
Awakening changed us. There was something different in the faces of the retreaters as we left St. P’s Sunday afternoon. We were headed back into the world (it was so strange having to look at a clock again) but with a renewed spirit that made the trek back to homework, deadlines, and looming final exams less draining. I wouldn’t have changed anything about that weekend and am so incredibly blessed to have gone on Awakening. To the staff, on behalf of the retreaters, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for caring enough about us to put on this retreat. It was a heck of a weekend, and boy do we feel awakened.