On the last day, it happened to be GORGEOUS outside. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the sun was shining bright over the 2+ feet of snow, making it shimmer. Now if you know me, you know that I really hate snow. It’s cold, wet, and makes it difficult to drive. I’m from the south; I like the sun. Regardless of that, I felt the strongest urge to go outside. I’m a sucker for gorgeous weather like that (I’m a Franciscan pray-er, so I love the beauty of nature – it reveals the power of God to me). I ended up suiting up to go out in the snow and make a visit to the statue of Mary outside. I had to try going out through 5 different doors, but there was so much snow that I couldn’t open them! Finally I found a side door, and the first step I took, I sunk into the snow about mid-calf. I just thought, “Okay this isn’t so bad.” I kept walking, and I started to pray. About the 6th step I took, I fell into the snow up to just above my knees! I started cracking up laughing and I knew Jesus was laughing at me. I kept walking and laughing with Him the whole way, and I even tripped at one point and yelled, “Jesus! Catch me!!” It came out so naturally, that all I could do was smile from ear to ear.
God spoke to me so clearly that day, and I will never forget it. He said “See, I make all things new,” and He has. He has made my heart tender once again. I can love without restraint, and He has freed me. That night was the final push, the last run. We had a baptism renewal mass, which was absolutely beautiful, and then we were free to speak. The most beautiful part in the mass was when I went for communion. I didn’t realize that Fr. Thomas was dipping the host in the blood before he gave it to us. I had a mini heart attack because I think that is the most beautiful way to receive Jesus Christ. A friend of mine had told me about this ridiculous meditation, explaining how Christ is the new wine. It’s absolutely amazing, and it’s all I could think about. “Eat my body, drink my blood, and you will have life everlasting.” He is our healer and takes away our pain. I love it!!!
After mass ended, all but 4 of us ran out the door of the chapel, screaming in joy and relief. I just stayed put….sitting in front of Christ, not ready to leave. I began to journal my last little bit, and I thanked God for that week, all His graces and begged Him to stay with me, and give me the strength to never forget what I’ve learned. I was trying to think of a word to describe my experience, so I could remember in the years to come. I wrote, “Jesus, this week has been….triumphant.” It was the only word that could do justice. I closed my journal, but I still was not ready to leave, so I decided, one last letter from the “His Princess” book. I opened to a random page, and read the title. “My Princess, Triumph Through Trials.” Honestly? Wow. God NEVER ceases to amaze me. The letter was beautiful as they all are; however the last sentence was what spoke to me the most. “When it is time to leave the garden, I will walk with you across the valley and straight to the cross—where your trials will be transformed into triumph.” Christ gave me the comfort I needed to continue on with my life. I felt so peaceful and trusting in His plan for me, and I was finally able to get up and say farewell to the best week of my life. I felt the desire of Christ deeply rooted in my heart. I had been made new.
My last amazing experience was the night before I returned to Michigan. I went to night prayers alone and just reflected on the entire week. I realized that I never got that incredible, overwhelming fire of the Holy Spirit, that feeling of God’s presence. I had wanted it so bad in the beginning, but by the end I could see what God’s intentions were. I continued to pray, and I wanted to do a spontaneous meditation, so I opened my book Interior Freedom to a random page and read a section of it. It was all about the fire of the Holy Spirit, of course. It talked about how it’s like the burning of wood. When you light it, it’s like the initial warmth of God. Then comes the ash and smoke with a bad scent, which is the “wickedness” of your soul. After that is the purifying fire which makes you clean.
I meditated on that for a minute or two and then something started to happen. I felt something in my heart, not just spiritually, I mean physically! My heart felt……cold.
Why was my heart cold? Like, really really cold. It didn’t make sense to me, but I heard God say, “No Laura….”
In that moment, I realized that my heart was not cold….it was burning.
It was the purifying love of Jesus Christ on my heart. He was making my heart physically new. God told me, “I am pleased with you my love.”
I finally got that fire I wanted.
I can’t even begin to explain the depth of this retreat for me. A lot of pain and healing were brought out, and I was made NEW. Christ drew out the bad and replaced it with good. He told me to never remember the past as torment, but as a way to reach out and help others. This was a life changing experience and I wouldn’t trade it for ANYTHING. There’s nothing more precious in my life than God’s love for me. Somewhere in those 7 days….
I fell in love with Jesus Christ.