Thursday, 23 March 2017

Surrender: Stories from the Cardiff Retreat

Catherine Horsnall

'I came to Cardiff very reluctantly. I’d had a terrible week, was feeling tired and overwhelmed with work and the last thing I wanted was a 5 hour round trip to Wales in the rain when I could be relaxing at home. However, it turns out that it was exactly where I needed to be. 

Having just moved to London, I’d been feeling the loneliness of having lots of new acquaintances nearby but my close friends and family scattered across the country. One of the beautiful things about Christian fellowship is the authenticity of relationship that it generates – there are very few other contexts where people so readily seek to love one another and show care for one another without any personal agenda. The friends I have made through Youth 2000 are rapidly becoming a form of family that I can just relax and be myself with and just being around them over the retreat gave me the grounding and healing I needed to go back to work feeling ready to face the week. Sometimes the greatest gift Jesus gives us in each other.'

Martha Harrold

'For me, the weekend was a breath of fresh air. So often in our lives, we get caught up with anything and everything except God. It’s so easy to become engrossed in uni deadlines, friendships, Netflix shows, and a million other things that are all good, important parts of our lives but are so fleeting. During the retreat, I was painfully aware of all the things in my life that I juggle, allowing them all a slot, trying to hold on to them all. Obviously, God is there in the mix. Prayer is there. But those are just a few of the many things I am juggling.

Spending a weekend with Jesus in the Eucharist as the focal point of everything I do is always SUCH a reality check. This weekend I felt so challenged to go deeper, to stop juggling, to simply get caught up with God who is unchanging, rather than being caught up with the things that come and go. Although there were so many beautiful things going on over the course of the retreat, for me the most poignant part of those few days was the re-realization that God is tirelessly pursuing my heart and just waits for my ‘yes.’'

Megan James 

'For me, the weekend was one of freedom. I entered the retreat with so much weight; the stress of a dissertation looming, the pain of grief, and anxiety as to what on earth God’s plan is for my future as I stand on the uncertain ground of final year and personal struggle. The idea of Surrender seemed pretty darn hard; it’s hard to trust and let go when everything around you feels so out of control. However, to my surprise I found so much unceasing joy within the four walls of the throne room as I sat and listened to some incredibly gifted friends speak about Jesus, about trust and surrender, and I found so much freedom in praise around the Blessed Sacrament. I looked around me on the last night and I saw a family. I looked around me and I felt at home.

During a time of hardship, the Lord showed me through a room full of love and fellowship just how well He provides for each of us, and He reminded me that He has given me so much to thank and praise Him for. He reminded me that faith means I have to trust Him, even when the path I’m on appears dark and seemingly unending. So, on that final night, when we entered into that electric time of Worship following the healing service, despite the troubles I brought with me, I had zero trouble holding my hands wide open to the Lord, singing whole heartedly and feeling Him move me to complete and utter peace. There is so much power in praise, and so much liberation in surrender. Thank you, and thank God, for a beaut weekend, Cardiff.'


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