Retreat Reflections: “John Paul II, Divine Mercy, and Healing of Memories”

Rebecca Anderson is a parishioner at St. Mark Catholic Church in Shoreline. She recently attended our August 24-26 silent women’s retreat, “John Paul II, Divine Mercy, and Healing of Memories,” led by author Dawn Eden.

Rebecca Anderson

This was my first silent retreat, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What persuaded me to attend the weekend were two things; first, the focus of the retreat was on Divine Mercy and healing from past memories. Divine Mercy is a beautiful devotion that has brought me great spiritual growth and peace over the years. The other deciding factor was my birthday is in early September, and I thought attending a retreat would be a wonderful birthday gift. (This made my husband’s task of giving me a birthday gift this year easy!)

When I arrived Friday evening, after checking in, I visited the dining room and made small talk with the other women who were finishing their meals. I didn’t realize that our silence would begin after dinner when we went to the meeting room where Dawn would hold her first of six talks over the weekend. We submitted our questions or comments during the weekend in writing. The only time we spoke was when we prayed as a group and at Mass.

A silent retreat in a noise-driven world is so counter-cultural. Unlike the weeklong American Sign Language workshops I had attended years ago where participants communicated with voices off, this took silence to another level. To voluntarily embark on a silent retreat weekend – wow! This is such a radical activity in our over-connected world. And yet, I knew (by faith) that this was exactly where God called me to be in that moment of my life. Deliberate, authentic, intentional silence from the noisy world of my life.

The fruit of my time in silence, guided by a gentle leader, and a beautiful priest who offered Mass, Adoration and Confession, refreshed and encouraged me to lean deeper into God and trust him more.

Some of my writings during my weekend while meditating on the Five Wounds of Jesus included:

“O Sweet Jesus, by your cross, your wounds, and crucifixion you show me daily that you understand intimately what I have experienced. There is nothing you have not suffered. And yet, you bore it all so that I may know the deep abiding love God has for me. Me. Alone. How can I not show mercy to others? How can I not forgive others? Mind blowing, really. Radical love you show me Jesus. Complete. How can I not be merciful to myself? And run and jump head first into the Wounds of Christ?”

In addition to an incredible spiritual experience, being in silence revealed a practical realization – silverware is quite noisy during meal time when the diners are eating in silence! And also, only the love of our Lord could keep a large group of women quiet for an entire weekend. If you can, I highly recommend attending a silent women’s retreat. While you may not come away knowing the names of many of the attendees, you can be assured that you are among a group of powerful prayer warriors.