Spring Cleaning Retreat

On the Saturday 19th of November, I participated on the Maronite Women’s Ministry Retreat called “Spring Cleaning Our Souls”, and even though the title of it was very straight forward, I wasn’t sure what would be happening. I only knew Adoration would be the centre of it and the Sacrament of Confession.

After much preparation (at home) to get my husband to look after our 3 children under 6 years old for at least 5 hours and the – first weekly and then daily reminders – that this event was going to take place, after Covid scares (negative thank God), flu scares, unsettled children, a last minute medical specialist phone call for a last minute Saturday appointment, and even a last minute expired drivers license of mine, I finally made it!!

I tell you, when you want to do something for God or God puts something available FOR you to get Closer to Him, the enemy won’t make it easy on you. He will try every single thing he can to stop you from going. So, when something like this happens, don’t wait until you are at the Retreat or at Adoration to pray because that was the retreat for, no. Pray from the moment you decided you wanted to do something for God or go somewhere, because you need to expect rain… and by rain I don’t mean literal water from the sky, but spiritual rain. Keep going through it with the Rosary in hand and invoking St. Michael the Archangel. You will arrive in safe harbour if you do so.

In my case, I finally got to the Retreat and met so many like-minded women from all ages. We started with a Prayer lead by our very own Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay who welcomed us to his Chapel and introduced to us the “Encouraging and Building Each Other Up – 2022-2024 Supplement Pastoral Plan”, which I read once I came home and enjoyed the riched filled goals for our Maronite Church.

Followed by this was the talk “Spring Cleaning Our Souls” lead by Brother Eliah, who took us to a beautiful journey of housekeeping our hearts the same way we clean our homes. But at home we clean what people or visitors see, when we know we “cheat” by hiding the things or spaces we don’t want anybody else to see… ignoring the simple fact that God always sees…

He then took us to the story of Kind David and his life of blessings and later on sin, finishing his talk with the recitation of Psalm 51, taking it as an example of the steps we can take, inwards, to approach the Sacrament of Confession.

How awesome is Our God, that He promised His presence with us forever and always through this Sacrament, reconciling us with Him and allowing us His Presence through the Eucharist!

After Br. Eliah’s talk we were invited to Morning Tea. Great snacks and great informal chat with all the women there. It was a wonderful time to begin to know each other after that ice-breaking talk.

Later we were lead to a short meditation and a craft activity done in silence.
Can you hear your child crying?
Can you hear your phone’s notifications or calls?
Is that Cocomelon in the background?
Is that my child asking for another snack?
Did the kettle just finished boiling?
No, no, and no to ALL the above.
It was silence. It was you with you and the painting mixing colours. Focusing on the traces and the textures.

Once enough time had passed and most of us finished our paintings, we had another break, this time for Lunch, when again the organisers from Maronite Women’s Ministry outdid themselves serving a very Lebanese light lunch.

After more informal chats and discussions about the master pieces we’ve just painted (or not so much master pieces for most of us!),  we were lead back to the Chapel for Adoration and Confession. An hour of just us and God. Isn’t that something special?

We have access to Adoration at our Parishes, we have access to Confession too, we can get our own Arts and Crafts and do it ourselves at home, we can cook ourselves or Uber whatever we want, but what made this retreat unique is that it was the first time since I had kids that I was able to have all of this – and in millions times better quality – without interruptions, with my whole and full attention physically, mentally, and spiritually: God and me. I needed this so much!

Spring cleaning was done.
Summer is fast approaching.
The sun is out and heating up day by day.
The flowers are flourishing.
Rain is not that often anymore.

And if one thing I can get out of this retreat is that: God Sees.

If He can see our sins and calls us through our feelings of guilt, He can surely see us doing good also when no one else sees.

He can see you at 2am waking up because your baby made a tiny noise and you want to make sure they are breathing.

He can see you stay up at night filling up some forms, getting the next day meals ready, or just packing up the 300 pieces of Lego’s that went under the couch.

He can hear you when, after dropping of your children to school, you quietly and anxiously pray for them to have a good day and be protected by their Guardian Angel.

He can see you when you spent two or more hours cooking a meal that was received with complaints or discontent.

He can see you while you are hanging dozens of socks, singlets, and shirts in the hot weather so your family can have nice and clean clothes.

He can see you! I repeat it: He sees YOU!

Whatever your work is, put your heart into it as done for the Lord and not for human beings, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making you his heirs. It is Christ the Lord that you are serving.” Colossians 3, 23-24.

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To the MWM and the Eparchy staff members, thank you for a wonderful time and invaluable lessons!

Until the next one!

God bless you all,

Liza, a Maronite Mum

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