Invite God In. That is the theme of the overnight University of St. Thomas Freshman Retreat this weekend I am helping to facilitate this weekend. Our retreat team and the freshmen are at Camp Wapo in Amery Wisconsin.
The theme seemed to me a suitable one for students beginning a new adventure. For many, this is the first time they are living on their own, and college is very different from high school. The question I put to them is: Where will God be for you in all of this/ How will you make sure you are walking with God – walking with grace – during this incredibly important time in your lives?
Yesterday we talked about the Igntian theme of Finding God in All Things, and several of the upper class members of the team shared some of their experiences of God outside of “formal” prayer settings – finding God in nature, poetry, music, weakness. In another segment we talked about beginning and ending our day in prayer, and again, several students talked about their morning and evening prayer. We will continue to explore our theme today, before heading back to campus later this afternoon.
One of the things I hope the students come away from the weekend with is an increased awareness, not only of the ways they can experience God, but of God’s desire for them to do so. I shared with them this quote from Vinita Hampton Wright.
I can say, with no reservations, that everyone experiences God.
We might not all use the same language for the experience.
We might not recognize the experience as having anything to do with God.
We might not share that experience with others, because it is deeply private or because we’re not sure how to communicate it.
But the Divine seeks us, desires us, and waits for the opportunity to meet us. Fortunately for us, God meets us where we are and in ways we are able to perceive the encounter.
May not only our students, but all of us, know how much God desires to meet us and may we be open to that encounter.