StudentNov 1, 2017Campus News
By: Anna Giannantonio

Silent Retreat Reflection: Anna Giannantonio '18

Senior Anna Giannantonio reflects on her experience on the 3-day Silent Retreat at Chapman Lake.
Silent Retreat Reflection: Anna Giannantonio '18
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Realizing the weight of those seven words, I recognized in myself a longing to take a step back...

My Passion Planner is the place where I map out every waking moment of my day. Amid the chaos of class, two on-campus jobs, weekly volunteering, club meetings, homework, and the obvious necessities of sleeping and eating, there’s not much room to simply be. My planner features a different quote every week, and during the first week of October, it was as if Socrates himself was nudging me toward taking time to relax: “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Realizing the weight of those seven words, I recognized in myself a longing to take a step back and refocus. I took what was, for me, a huge leap of faith: I signed up for the Silent Retreat.

Saying I love to socialize is the understatement of the year, so I was hesitant to immerse myself in an environment where I would have to be quiet for an entire weekend. I had a huge pit in my stomach until Friday evening at Chapman Lake. I took a deep breath and realized how revitalizing it can be to be truly mindful of my thoughts and focus on myself and my relationship with God. I consider myself to be a faithful person and I spend a good deal of time focusing on just that, but I feel as though I can be limited in that I see God the most in others. It’s a rarity that I can still myself enough to talk to God in more than a quick prayer. I went into the weekend looking to accomplish one thing: discern my vocation. While I didn’t achieve that per se, I think I got something even better out of it. I was able to look back on my three and a half years at the U and see God not necessarily in the people I love themselves but in the love shared between us. I read a book while I was there, and the author delves into the idea that when John’s Gospel says, “God is love,” it is meant to be taken as the verb itself. God Himself is the love shared in relationship with others.

The three days proved to be incredibly eye-opening and gave me insight into my beliefs and my faith. I was able to see God in some of the most interesting places: attempting (and failing) to silently giggle with friends, reading and reflecting in my Bible, and oddly enough, in two white ducks who followed us around all weekend.

I think the coolest thing was when we regrouped at the end of the weekend and “broke the silence,” if you will. Everybody shared their initial expectations for the weekend and what they personally got out of the retreat. No two were exactly the same. We had all spent the weekend in a community, but each of us was in very different places in our faith journeys. The weekend didn’t need words to be meaningful to me or the other students I shared it with. I intend to take back to campus with me the clarity and peace I felt while I was at Chapman and make time to be still. Taking time to pause my busy schedule is definitely not my forte, but if I can’t bring myself to the peace of the Lake, I’ll bring the peace of the Lake to me.

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