We are all aware of the disciples experience when the Sea of Galilee turned into a raging storm: "Suddenly a violent storm came upon the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves, but He was asleep. They came and woke him saying, "Lord, save us! We are lost." (Matthew 8:24-25)
Trials, even the weather, always look like impossible situations. We try to accept them but things get too tough. Our faith and trust wither and we begin to sink. We call for help and Jesus rescues us. There is a brief calm. If we continue the journey, the wind an the waves start up again. Again, we try to find Jesus in the particular difficulty; again we start drown; he save us. This is the story of everyone's spiritual journey. The only mistake is to go down - and not yell for help.
FROM STORM TO CALM IN THE SPIRITUAL RETREATS
One of the most common spiritual experience of our retreatants is the undeniable silence and the peace of mind and hearts that invades their person upon entrance to OUR LADY'S HILL. They come form a very noisy environment, move into a space, free of television, computers, cellphones, SM and traffic. AS they journey in prayer and solitude, the storms and waves of life, give way to peace and serenity.
With this experience, we welcomed retreatants during "the pick season" of April and May for their Annual "retreats and recollections", which June less hectic. This year of 2010 hit an all time "high" for April and May. Fr. Buddy and I facilitated six guided retreats for religious of various Congregations, namely, the Missionary Catechists of St. Therese, Missionaries of AMP, Daughters of St. Teresa of Cebu, Canossians of Manila, the Blessed Virgin Missionaries of Carmel, Escolapias Sisters of Cebu and some individual Carmelite Sisters. This does not include other religious congregations who brought along their own facilitators, like our good La Salle Sisters of Guadalupe.
They are two lay groups who have been coming to Our Lady's Hill i greater numbers and frequency , namely "teachers and school administrators" and "college students". They are amaze how the "environment prayer and silence" as a new experience for them, induced "their conversions," their "personal spiritual storms." We are constantly impressed with their faith-sharing in which they express their "renewal and conversion of life."
The most popular kind of retreat this 2010 is the THIRD-DAY RETREAT. As of January, we have conduct three THIRD-DAY RETREATS, with our own Teresian twist, and with emphasis to go beyond feelings, yet being truly affective. We know that everything in Teresian prayer moves toward affective rapport with Christ and His Father in the Spirit. Thi strong affective orientation that Teresa gives to prayer has contemplation in mind. Through affective simplicity, the retreatants best disposes oneself for the gift of contemplation. Throughout the THIRD-DAY RETREAT we point out the goal is union with God. Easy enough! Affective prayer is communion with God. Since Teresians prayer is essentially affective, so the essence of affectivity is desire for God. In the THIRD-DAY RETREAT, the retreatant goes through many storms, but once they experience the essence of prayer, allowing God to love you, the storm is over, and the calm enters.
The participants of these three THIRD-DAY RETREATS, were religious sisters, seminarians, and the lay. We have the forth THIRD-DAY RETREAT is scheduled for August 16th to September 17th, 2010.
FROM STORM TO CALM TO STORM IN THE FARM
From January until early June, we were in storm, WITHOUT WATER, or more popularly called EL NIÑO caused extensive damage to all our fruit trees, especially the KALAMANSI. We have 828 KLALAMANSI trees, and 316 were damaged and so brittle that the branches could be snapped off with one's fingers. Fortunately only four trees actually died. The CALM came in early May with extensive rains. Slowly the KALAMANSI TREES are turning to normal, with some already flowering.
The STORM, or the EL NIÑO, also damaged the MANGOES. Despite the EL NIÑO , with the addition of three "spraying" and "extensive flowering," our optimism was high for a big harvest. This time the RAIN STORMS were not in our favor, even though we prayed four months for rain. The LA NIÑA entered suddenly, and washed out the "flowering mango trees." We have one hundred and two (102) mango trees, with only four trees (4) bearing fruit. We harvested 282 kilos of mangoes . We spent 16,060.00 for the fertilizing, with the market value of our harvest reaching only P8,760.00
Another STORM appeared on the horizon! This time it was the RICE-FILLED! We had the large harvest in the past eight years. We harvested one hundred thirty six (136) kabans of palay. We celebrated immediately! We shared our "plenty" with our farm workers, with each receiving more than one kaban each. The celebration was short lived! During out monthly staff meeting, Sister Ophalia reported that the rice-field expenses amounted P161,744.00. The market value of the 136 kabans of palay was only P161,704. We are "lugi" by P40.00 pesos. So it is our STORM-CALM-STORM experience!
The fourth STORM was our ELECTRIC BILL! Due to the EL NIÑO, we had irrigate the entire farm, including the kalamansi, mango and rice-field extensively during the month of March, April and May. Our ELECTRIC BILLS increased drastically from P17,000.00 in March, to P29,000.00 in April and P51,000.00 in May. Here we have NO CALM, BUT THREE MONTHLY STORMS.
STORM TO CALM TO CALM
Come what may, with little gain and high overhead, we believe that God is hidden in these difficulties, these STORMS. Why? How? If we can find Him there, we will never lose heart, nor Him. Without difficulties and STORMS , we do not know the power of God's mercy and the incredible destiny He has for us. We tell ourselves that we must be patient with our failures and STORMS. There is always another opportunity unless we go ashore and stay there. A NO-RISK situation is the biggest danger there is. We see it as a training in the art of yielding to God's action and believing in his love no matter what happen.