I will not discuss any boardroom topic for this article in deference to the Holy Week. Instead, I will do a recollection and write about joining a retreat, an activity that is appealing because of its solemnity but which, by my own inaction, has eluded me. Many years back, I always received yearly invitations to join three-day retreats in Mt. Makiling starting on Holy Thursdays. I always declined thinking that my schedule did not permit it. While there were long holidays, there were also homecoming trips for reunions with relatives and townmates, attendance of some religious activities, and even the clearing of work backlogs.My excuse then was that I did not have the time, which I realize now was a misgiving.
I have already retired from work since then, and although I am still active with some directorships and consultancies, I now feel a calling to go on retreat this Lenten season. Sadly, no invitations came – either they have already excluded my name from the list or they have decided to put off any schedule for this year. I once asked a friend how was it like during the retreat. “It is very simple and very refreshing”, he said. After brief introductions and instructions, he also said, each one was left on his own in solitude and silence. There were no long discourses, homilies and teachings. It was more a process of soul-searching. I now find a longing for such program. I can imagine myself, nestled high up in the cool forests and mountains, in close communion with nature, and finding myself in deeper meditation and forging a more meaningful unification with the Almighty, leading to a spiritual renewal.
Be that as it may, I feel we can still create small retreats in our own spaces and in our own time, in peace and quiet, for spiritual uplifting.It is both timely and propitious inthese trying times. We need hope, strength and confidence to overcome the sufferings around us – an invisible yet disastrous virus, a seriously ailing population, a high rate of mortality,a sea of those starving and unemployed, and a crippled economy. We can come out of our small retreatto face the world with stronger resolve, without being bothered by any perceived bureaucratic ineptitude, by the irresponsible disregard of protocols, nor by any systemic failure. The retreat should instill trust in ourselves, in our ability to conduct our lives in safety and reinforce our aspiration to alleviate and rebuild,withfaith on the capability of all others to deliver us from this crisis. Most of all, we can entrust ourselves in the hands of the most powerful Protector.
We can seek refuge in Psalm 91 with its comforting passages: “God will rescue you from the fowler’s snare, from the destroying plague, will shelter you with pinions, spread wings that you may take refuge …. No evil shall befall you, no affliction shall come near your tent, for God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways …. Whoever clings to Me I will deliver. Whoever knows My name I will set on high. All who call upon Me I will answer. I will be with them in distress. I’ll deliver them and give them honor. With length of days, I’ll satisfy them.And show them My saving power.” Amen.
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The above comments are the personal views of the writer. His email address is [email protected]