I went to the Midwest Regional Retreat this weekend, and before it was even halfway over, I couldn’t wait to tell you about it. Here goes.
Let’s start with where I was, where my mindset was, before the retreat.
I went in knowing just one person, and I expected to leave only knowing a few more. I’m definitely not the most social person on the face of the planet–I like to stick to myself. I didn’t have a cadre of compatriots from my local OCF chapter in tow with me. I hadn’t been a two- or three- or four-year attendee of this retreat. I was new, and being new is scary, and being new and not the most social person on the face of the planet is even scarier.
That’s where I was, this past Friday, the day before the retreat–but more importantly, that’s where I was, three weeks ago, when I registered for the retreat. Even in all of that scariness, I still registered.
Now, you probably won’t be exactly where I was, but you might be close to where I was. And despite where I was–unsure, hesitant, afraid–I still registered. That, my friends, is my first recommendation to you: register.
Most Regional Retreats are free. There’s neither harm nor foul in registering and being unable to attend. There is, however, both harm and foul in failing to register, then being able and willing and wishing to attend. The harm and foul being, of course, you miss out on the fantastic retreat.
Register. Register and get the drum-roll updates, register and get added to the Facebook group to start meeting your fellow retreat-mates. Register, and if you can’t make it, that’s okay. But don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity by failing to register. Don’t find yourself wishing you made a different decision three weeks ago.
Register, so that you can get to where I am now.
I feel so blessed. I only knew one guy headed to the retreat, and he had a spot in his car for me. The retreat was scheduled for my first weekend at college! One weekend earlier, and I wouldn’t have been able to make it. The schoolwork of the first week was not-so-overwhelming–not enough to prevent my attendance, at least. I’d even been to the retreat center before, which made me all the more comfortable.
Thank God that all of these factors came together as they did. I told you I expected to leave only knowing a few more people–I stand before you, proudly proclaiming that I know and love several. I laughed, almost to the point of tears, with a day-old friend over a poorly drawn picture of invisible guitars; I listened, awestruck, as yesterday’s strangers spoke about their pilgrimages to Greece and their life-long dream to live in the mountains; I sung, rather poorly, the Paraklesis service with twenty other Orthodox Christian college students, and our off-key stumblings were some of the most beautiful notes I have ever heard.
This serves my second point. If the first was register, the second is this: then go.
Yes, it is laughably simple, for my two recommendations for Regional Retreats to be register, then go. However, I cannot honestly give you more earnest advice. I cannot tell you how to handle your shaky expectations, your nervousness, for I had no solution myself! I simply registered nonetheless. Nor can I tell you how to handle yourself while you are there, for that belongs to you and to God, not to me. I simply arrived and was myself.
And it could not have possibly gone better.
Last week, I encouraged you to check yourself: to look at who you were, who you wanted to become, and if you were trending in that direction. This was an examination of your growth, but on a macroscopic scale. I find myself taking the same check-in, but on a microscopic scale: comparing the individual I was before this weekend to the individual I am afterward.
The difference is both striking in magnitude and encouraging in effect. I am better than I was, trending upward, growing stronger. And all I did was register, then go.
So, the only advice I can give you is simply as such: register, then go.
If you want to learn more about your Regional Retreat, click here!