Manresa: A Time of Recharge, Reflection and Retreat

“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”

I can’t help but feel a rush of joy when my dark, lifeless phone suddenly comes to life while charging. I stare at it impatiently hoping that in any second it while finally lighten up.

Michelle, our retreat director on the new Manresa Junior Retreat, noted that we can be a lot like our phones that need to be re-charged. We can often let ourselves reach the point of zero energy, filling up our schedules with internships and clubs and studying for exams until the wee hours of the morning, all while trying to maintain an enjoyable and social college experience.  We sometimes rarely allow ourselves time for the necessary reboot- a time of silence and stillness in order to lighten up again.

I found myself falling into this busy-ness culture at Georgetown.  I looked around and saw all of my friends thriving. They too worked hard at all hours, yet they also seemed to maintain a social life, exercise, and explore DC. I, on the other hand, couldn’t afford to go a whole day without opening my school bag because I felt guilty for not working exceptionally hard. This hard-working lifestyle with little breaks seemed both sustainable and productive. I felt I was moving forward towards progress. Yet, I couldn’t have been more wrong. How could I ever think that I was different than a phone in serious need of a recharge? My napping sprees and lazy Sunday mornings, while nice reminders of relaxation, served more like an extra shot of espresso rather than a true chance to recharge.

The Manresa Junior Retreat could not have come at a better time. After a tough week of midterms, where I let myself get dangerously close to 0%, the time came to power off and be silent. I quite literally turned off my own phone, and gave us both some time to recharge.

The retreat experience was one I knew I needed but didn’t realize how much. Yes, it was exactly the recharging experience one might expect. I was quiet, rested and still. Yet, the real recharge didn’t come from the fact that for once I wasn’t moving 13974 miles per hour.

Instead, to my surprise and delight, my approach to life was rejuvenated. Resting, in the physical sense, is fairly easy, but allowing my mind to rest and reflect on my lifestyle was not as easy.  Allowing myself to be on retreat granted me the opportunity to sit back and reexamine my life.  Am I doing what I love? Am I happy?  What happened to me on retreat was a much deeper level of recharging that allowed me to move forward productively with my life and studies.

During Manresa, I reexamined my perspectives, goals and relationship with God. I realized there was a difference between having a great work ethic and being a workaholic. I enjoy learning new things and challenging myself, but I also enjoy being stress-free and happy. My time on retreat helped get me off the conveyor belt that Georgetown can sometimes be and back in touch with my authentic self.

I now plan to continue this Manresa mindset and live out my next year and a half on the hilltop with a new recharged and reshaped outlook. I want to make my Georgetown experience as great and memorable as it can be, and that would not have been possible without this retreat. I now can truly say that I am better able to understand my world after stepping away from it briefly.

Written by Anna Hallahan, C’18.