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Column:Student finds spiritual solace at silent retreat

By EMILY SZKLARSKI
On February 13, 2014

Silence can be awkward. Silence can be seem like a thousand years of anticipation. Silence can be lonely. Silence also can be the most awesome thing ever, as I learned this past weekend.
The Emmaus Retreat, put on by University Ministry, gave a new meaning to a word that I used to associate with boredom, loneliness and just no fun.
The name, although sounding akin to a house music artist, is actually named for the road that two men in the Bible were walking when they were joined by a third man. The third man was Jesus, but they didn't know it.
The point of the retreat is to go on a daylong silent walk for yourself. Starting last Friday night, I set aside my phone, put off my homework, removed myself from the clocks and hustle of school. I took time to just be.
A considerably large chunk of time into the silence of Saturday, I got to thinking about my spirituality.
Now, I really have spent about a thousand considerably large chunks of time contemplating this concept since beginning college.
For starters, I feel expectations of what I should be from everywhere. I know what society wants me to do, what my parents want me to do, what professors want me to do and I know what my future employers want me to do.
That's all easy because I hear these things almost every day. But how do I want to live my life?
I'm not even talking about actually going out and living my life. I mean the step before that. Where do I find peace and joy? How am I supposed to figure out what I really believe in, how to find fun or what to dedicate my academic mind to studying?
First, accepting that I don't have to figure it out at once has helped. Second, I have discovered that I just need to live. I don't mean that I need to live in the moment, because that's not enough. I need to live in this moment, the moments from yesterday and the moments that might happen in the future - all of it!
This epiphany turned me back to something important: if I compartmentalize every aspect of my life, I might gain a better understanding of what my life means. If that compartmentalization is permanent, however, then we're ignoring the fact that faith, theology, science, Netflix, Comic Con, barbecuing and so many other things all exist in the same universe.
When I'm living, I want to take it all in. My faith life is in my real life. Everything exists together just as I can easily go from one thought to the next.
Two considerably large chunks of time after that - remember, I didn't have a time piece - I was pretty satisfied with what I took the time to ponder, and I still had roughly five considerably large chunks of time for silence left.
Basically, I feel that the retreat gave me not only a chance to catch up with myself but also to learn from other people by what they contemplated in their own prayer experiences. Taking that time to examine where I find joy and happiness in my life was extremely rewarding.
Ultimately, silence is an opportunity to piece my life together.
Emily Szklarski is a psychology junior and may be reached at ecszklar@loyno.edu 


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