I spent the first gloriously warm spring weekend in silent retreat at the Loyola Jesuit Center. It seemed the perfect way to kick off my new life—two whole days in His presence, attending prayer services and celebrating sacraments and wandering gardens that were just beginning to bloom.
Afterward, I couldn’t find the words to share the experience. I’d composed pages and pages in my journal, but when people asked I could only say that the weekend was “awesome.” Elaborating felt strange and intimate. Even writing it here is personal, like I’m sharing the most intimate details of my private life.
What did happen this weekend?
I’ve always believed in Jesus, the same way you believe any historical event—there’s an understanding that it happened, and it’s affected you, but it’s still an abstract concept. I loved God, certainly, for His pure and perfect love for me. But looking at it now, it was still from a distance. Like He was somehow unattainable. Like the veil was still drawn between us, and I could only worship from afar.
It was Saturday evening Mass. I’d just come from the stations, which were set along a trail through the gardens. I was kneeling, preparing to receive the Eucharist. In that instant… it changed. I was filled with an otherworldly warmth. I wasn’t merely worshiping from afar, pleading with Him to cleanse my soul. I looked up at the crucifix, staring at the face that I so seldom stared into, and our relationship changed.
I truly and absolutely fell in love with Jesus. I had become His, and He had become mine.
After Mass was adoration, accompanied by a CD of quiet hymns. Occasionally someone would softly sing along, and their love for Jesus resonated through the chapel. But still, I couldn’t believe they felt the same way I did. It was falling in love, in the way you think your love is like no other, like no one could possibly understand it.
I’d claimed a desire to follow Him before, but my own fears held me back. I trusted my instinct more than Him. Now, I proclaimed, I will do whatever you desire of me. I didn’t just put my fears aside—they no longer existed. The veil was obliterated. What now? I asked.
There was no answer. Or, rather, there was: a contented silence.
We were simply being, enjoying each other’s company. The warmth and joy of new love. The honeymoon, if you will. I had committed myself to Him, and He embraced me. Just stay with me for now, He whispered, and I did.
A hymn played at that time, one I’d heard only once before but remembered so clearly. It became my own, just as He had.
beyond my wants,
beyond my fears,
from death into life.