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alec vanderboom

On Friday, I leave for my first ever Catholic retreat. I'm leaving my husband, my three kids, my arthritic dog, probably a huge pile of stained laundry, and I'm going to hang out alone with God for seventy-two hours.

I'm terrified!

This is supposed to be great. This is every mother's dream. Time to say a TWENTY decade rosary without interruptions from small people asking for one more drink of water or help in finding the lost Bionicle arm. Time to pray after Communion. Time to chat leisurely with other women over lunch without worrying that every extra minute stolen at Panera away from the grouchy sick kids is another minute directly subtracted from your husband's life expectancy.

So what am I feeling instead?

Dread. Terror. Anger. Anxiety.

I'm worried about what God is going to say to me as he snatches me out of my regular life.

The last time I went on something close to a religious pilgrimage was a trip to Ireland in 2002. You remember how that ended, of course, me deciding that this Catholic stuff was real and throwing away some sinful condoms. Seven years later life has changed dramatically. Here I am now-- a Daily Mass going, stay-at-home, home-schooling mother of three who desperately wishes for another baby.

Part of me feels like: "I don't want my life shaken up anymore!"

While the outside corners of my life look the same, same apartment, same telephone number, same iffy Verizon internet connection- inside my life is changing at lightening speed. There are all of these new concepts, new stretching exercises, new painful pulling out of the root causes of sin. I don't recognize myself on the inside from the girl who attended a Papal Mass in April.

All that change has left me grouchy and depleted.

I'm in need of a spiritual rest.

I guess that's why God's pulling me into a Catholic retreat.

Prayer: St. John of the Cross, You said "So... do not be like many heartless people who have a low opinion of God; they think that when they cannot understand him or sense or feel him, he is further away- when the truth is more the opposite: it is when they understand him less clearly, that they are coming closer to him"*. St John of the Cross, pray for me to not be a heartless person. Pray for me to gain the virtues of courage and perseverance.

*(Spiritual Canticle, second redaction 1. 12).