Prayer in Daily Life: Being at Peace with Not Being at Peace

When I signed up for the God’s Light and Love: Prayer in Daily Life retreat back in February, I thought I would be doing a 6-week, on-campus retreat. Little did I know that it would turn into an off-campus retreat when all of our worlds turned upside down. Wanting to challenge myself spiritually during the season of Lent, I did not expect to be challenged in almost every other aspect of my life.

My on-campus retreat experience began with discipline. Each busy day, I set aside half an hour for scripture reading and prayer. I found it tricky to find spiritual space — both a physical spot to pray alone and room for prayer within my preoccupied mind. I sought advice from my spiritual director. Gradually I became accustomed to my new prayer routine, stopping by Dahlgren Chapel before classes and Copley Crypt after study sessions. These intentional times of prayer were the respite within my whirlwind days where I found time to be silent, to reflect, and to be grateful. 

When it was announced that we’d be spending the rest of the semester in virtual learning, I was elated to know that I could continue the retreat. Grasping at the threads of my unraveling semester, I saw the prayer retreat as a link to Georgetown and a way to tie the two ends of the spring semester together. As I transitioned to living at home and taking classes online, I was reminded through prayer to continue to be grateful. The retreat helped me to look for graces and blessings during this time of isolation, all while feeling supported by Campus Ministry. 

But I quickly realized that the latter half of my retreat experience would be totally different than it began. I found it even harder to find time and space to pray at home, and I was no longer motivated by a need for rest. With everything going on in the world, God sometimes seemed farther away from me than ever. There were (and still are) many days where I felt like I was stuck in a rut.

Looking back on the past six weeks, I see them now as an ebb and flow. I have experienced both the flow of normalcy and the ebb of change, sadness, and worry. Through prayer and with the help of my spiritual director, I have realized that it’s okay to be in the ebb. I may be able to find meaning — or I may be able to find none, which is alright, too. Prayer in daily life has made me at peace with not being at peace. 

by Elizabeth Dillon

Elizabeth Dillon is a freshman in the College. She works at Campus Ministry as a member of the Hospitality Team and attends Sunday Night Worship where she sings in the Gospel Choir.