As I approached the season of Lent this year, I found myself looking for a way to truly get in touch with my faith rather than simply giving up an edible temptation. You see, in years past, I had usually decided to give up something like sweets or soda mostly with fitness, rather than spiritual, goals in mind. But this year, I was determined to use Lent not to fulfill my own petty goals but to deepen my relationship with God.
So as mid-February rolled around, I decided on two ways I could actively engage in my spirituality. Fr. Manh, after over a year of kind harassment, finally convinced me to join CLC. And in the same way I had never made the time for something as meaningful as CLC, I had never found the time to fulfill one of my goals since SEARCHing in the fall of 2011, Search Crew. So, this past Lent, instead of waiting for free time to find me, I made the time to get involved with Search.
The funny thing is, I was expecting to be somewhat immune to the way Search had impacted me the first time around, but instead, I think I actually got more out of it this second time.
I have always thought of prayer in a very traditional sense. You know the whole close your eyes, clasp your hands, and talk to God sort of thing. But while I was on the Search Crew retreat, I found myself experiencing God in an entirely unexpected way. After we had finished an activity, we had a little free time on the beach, so I went and stood at the water’s edge and closed my eyes. I expected to feel the refreshing sea breeze on my face and the sun on my skin, but I found that even without asking for Him, I felt God surrounding me at that time. I didn’t try to explicitly talk to Him, but rather, I just let the two of us be together on the beach. And it was peaceful and perfect.
I had never experienced God before in that manner, and I think the Search atmosphere allowed me to be open to something I never could have even imagined. You know when you get to a point in a friendship with someone where it’s no longer awkward to sit in silence with each other and you don’t feel obligated to fill it in with meaningless questions? Well, after 21 years, I finally reached that space with God, and it was pure bliss.