World Community for Christian Meditation Easter Retreat


As I took my place on the hilltop early in the pre-dawn Easter Sunday morning, I could think of little else besides how tired I was after staying up for the late-night vigil Saturday night and then packing my bags to take with me that morning. The horizon was just beginning to light up, and the other meditators on the retreat were remarkably cheery for such an hour. We awaited the sunrise there at the Standing Stone, a flat stone standing vertically in the middle of the island that the Celts had placed there some 5,000 years ago. It was an amazing place to be for Easter sunrise, and yet I was still very stuck in my head, minding my own thoughts.

Over the course of the World Community for Christian Meditation Easter retreat on Bere Island, to which I had the fortune of going thanks to support from Campus Ministry and the John Main Center for Meditation, we retreatants listened to Father Laurence give talks about the message of Jesus’ death and our own calling to die to ourselves as we transcend our egos and follow His teaching to love one another as ourselves. In my reflections, I saw how the practice of meditation and prayer help one along that path, but I also faced deep doubt about the possibility of ever achieving  such transcendence. I felt my own desires and saw how, even in the context of such a wonderful, friendly community of fellow meditators, I still suffered from my own longing and attachment. These things separated me from those around me and stopped me from recognizing God’s love, and I did not see how to get around it.


After thirty minutes or so of standing together by the Standing Stone, a golden sliver peaked out from beyond the distant mountain range, and we all joined in singing alleluia and listening to Father Laurence read the Gospel. Suddenly, thanks to the beautiful sound of the other retreatants singing alleluia, the joyful look on their faces, and most of all, the brilliant orange globe rising in the eastern sky, something changed in me, and I found that Hope I had been searching for. I suddenly felt I could believe that, in spite of our own sin, there was still reason to believe that we can come to truly love one another as ourselves, and I felt great joy. That joy stayed with me throughout the day, as the retreat ended and we took off in our separate planes to go back where we had come from. Though an entire ocean separated me from that island by the time I got back home, I carried with me that love and joy I had felt that morning, and I knew that I had finally found my spiritual home.


Peter Armstrong, SFS ’15