The Path Less Travelled
There is a pure joy that manifests from the actualisation of your relationship with God, and a gentle comfort that descends as a result of being surrounded by a group of people so eager to accept and love. These could easily be the paramount rewards that come from Thanh Nienâ€™s 64th retreat: The Path Less Travelled.
I was assigned a name tag upon arriving, and was commanded to keep it on my person at all times. With a name tag clearly pinned on your chest, the feeling of being lost or alone dissipates quite quickly. It was like being reacquainted with the brothers and sisters God had already given me, whom Iâ€™d never met before. Something as simple as a name tag, had given me a way into a group of highly unique individuals, joined by their love for God.
During the course of time we spent at Bringelly, there was a timetable of prayers, group discussions, games and lectures. We would get together in the morning to express gratitude for all the gifts from God. We were guided to the realisation that every day was another chance to revel in the many mysteries around us.
The Path that became the crux of this retreat was shown to be one of kindness and mercy â€“ a reflection of Jesusâ€™ difficult journey. Choices were presented to us in group discussions, and we were urged to choose the Path Less Travelled, that which others may ignore because of inconvenience, or ignorance. We were asked to emulate God in all we do, we were asked to carry our own crosses.
The lectures delivered by Cha Hong and supplemented by Cha Liem enlightened us to the requirements for human actions that become the metaphorical steps of the Path. These were punctured by hilarious games and songs â€“ reminding us subtly that doing the right thing and making the right choices could be immensely fun.
The games we played were reminders of the euphoria brought on by team work â€“ it is much more satisfying to win as a team, than alone. We played modified versions of volleyball, soccer and dodge ball. Following this came the biggest water fight that Iâ€™d ever been a part of. When the water bombs were all used, huge buckets were employed to drench unsuspecting victims.
At night, the Good Shepherdâ€™s Hall would be lit by candles, and weâ€™d join in song and prayer to again say thank you. I would say that these moments were the ones when I felt closest to God. Through the people around me, I could feel Godâ€™s love and ultimate acceptance and forgiveness. The brothers and sisters Iâ€™d only recently been acquainted with became the purest channels of Godâ€™s benevolence. Some people shared their experiences during these moments. Their honesty and bravery shone brighter than any candle and spurred me to be more compassionate, and open.
As a result of this retreat, I have become more aware of the Path I have taken. I hope to become more conscious of the choices I make from now on, melding my steps into the Path Less Travelled.