Posts Tagged With: retreat

Retreat as Presence

In all my moments of joy and sadness, You have been always with me. You always bless me, support me and sustain me. I feel blessed although I don’t deserve it because I know my lapses and weaknesses. In unexpected moments, I always feel Your Unseen help. But in times of sadness, I would feel You most. You are there as I would experience the pain, and later on, I would open my heart for acceptance and take lessons from it.

I also believe that in times I don’t remember and am oblivious of You, You are always there, without leaving me even for a single moment. I thank You for giving me the opportunity to thank You, and once again, I do thank You for the opportunity to thank You for the second time. Therefore, I have to thank you infinitely.

In all those years, I cannot desire anything but thanks and gratitude to You — gratitude to You for the successes as well as the opportunity to accept the sad experiences with an open heart.

Right now, my relationship with You is that of reconciliation and continuous returning; a relationship of a lover with his Beloved who is absolutely loving and unconditionally caring.

My concept of You is that of an All-loving, unconditionally compassionate and ever understanding Friend. With this conception of You, I do experience You in all the ups and downs of my life – both in times of remembering and obliviousness, moments of prosperity and adversity, alone or not.

My attention to small ‘beloveds’ seemed to be the hindrances in my pursuit of a greater love with You, my Real and Only Beloved.
Instead of submitting to Your will and winning Your Divine pleasure, time and again, I allow myself to follow the dictates of my whims and caprice. In other words, I allow myself to pay attention to other than You.

Perhaps, I am called to a conversion of the heart so as to be more closely united with You through the ways of Your Word: the declaration of nearness to me, the assurance of Your forgiveness whenever I sincerely ask for it and return to You, and the certainty of Your unmatched understanding and overflowing grace.

As a commitment of faith or personal mission statement, I will try to be a better lover everyday; now better than yesterday; and tomorrow better than today. This I will do by saying thus: ‘Verily, my prayer and my sacrifices, my life and my death are all for the sake of You, my Beloved.”

Give me the goodness in this world. This ‘goodness’ is absolutely known to You and You alone. It can be longevity of life or its opposite. It may be health or the lack of it; it may be wealth or the lack of it; it may be the enormity of friends and well wishers, or the scarcity of the same.

This goodness in this world may be intelligence or its contrast. It may be physical attractiveness or repulsiveness. It may be multitude of offspring or the lack of it.

As such, I desire nothing but what You desire because I certainly know that I may desire for something which is bad for me, and on the contrary, I may dislike something which is good for me.

In short, of a surety, whatever You desire is that which is absolutely desirable for me. Because of this, I thank You endlessly.

I ask for Your love, for understanding Your love, and for always tasting the sweetness of Your love.

Let my words and deeds be imbued with the Divine Love. Let them be a manifestation of sincerity and truthfulness, humility and meekness.

Let every offence I make, if ever I will, be a source of self-realization and feeling of remorse. Let it give me the sense of alienation and distance from You so that I would long to immediately return to Your lap. Let it become a window of enlightenment.

Do not let every good I do turn into a speck of atom of pride and self-confidence in me. Do not let it give me a feeling of self-sufficiency and independence from You. Do not let it transform into a sense of goodness and holiness in me.

As this shortwhile retreat inevitably comes to a close, I thank You for this rare opportunity for a rendezvous. I see it as a journey to continue the longer journey of life.

Just as I look at retreat as a kind of entrance and exit, I also consider concluding a retreat a sort of exit and entrance – exit from dating with one’s Beloved and entrance to the realm of dealing with and giving attention to others while always keeping in one’s mind and heart the all-pervading presence of one’s Beloved.

As I become more aware, once again, of Your Divine Presence, I do totally submit to Your desire and pleasure. So, always bestow me the pleasure of winning Your pleasure.

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Retreat and Silence

Retreat does not only mean withdrawal from the hustle and bustle of daily life; it is an encounter — an encounter with solitude and silence; it is an encounter with your Darling; it is a rendezvous with your Beloved; it is meeting with your Favorite.

Retreat is finding space. It is an exclusive tete-a-tete with you Best Friend.

Silence means the lack of noise and voice. It is the special fast observed by Prophet Zachariah and Blessed Mary. It could be a noisy silence or a voiceless one. It is a definite immunity from oral mistake.

Silence means freedom from the menace of the most dangerous flesh on earth (tongue). It means not only not talking but it is speaking through a voiceless language; it is hearing noises within; it is listening to the voiceless voice within.

Silence means knocking at the door of solitude. It means initially entertaining tumults and agitations of the heart. It is the speaking engagement of the heart.

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Retreat: A Forward Movement

Retreat (i’tikaf) is not to step backward; it is rather a forward movement. It is a motion to desire (iradah). It is to desire for something; at times, it means to desire not to desire. It is a desire for a rendezvous (liqa’); yes, it is a desire for a date – dating with a Familiar Face, nay the Most Familiar One. As a corollary, it is a desire not to desire for anything other than the Most Familiar Countenance.

Retreat is not to go to a remote place; rather, it is a homecoming. It is not a journey to a strange land, but to be a resident dweller. It is not to observe a ritualistic fast of silence, but rather to shout, “Home sweet home!”

Retreat is not a departure, but rather an arrival. It is an arrival to the warm embrace of nature – the chirping of birds, the falling of leaves, the caterwauling of cats, the murmuring of bees, the gentle waves of the sea, and the splotching in a brook.

Hence, when you have no desire yet, then desire for that desire from the Source of desires, as He is indeed most desirous to grant you that desire. And as you approach the doorstep of the House of Returning (tawbah) by walking slowly, be aware that your Beloved is welcoming you running most ardently.

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