So, let me just say that I am not going to shove religion down your throat. I think that’s bad and I really don’t like that in the first place. Anyways, this is just a post about the witnesses and experiences that impacted me the most. It is really long. I’m sorry :/.
This past weekend (May 3-5) was Kairos 24 for my school. I honestly didn’t know what it was really about and only knew what I had heard from others. I kept hearing people say that it’s life changing, amazing, wonderful, and that I should really attend one. So the time came when applications were due, and I decided that I should go on this retreat and see what the buzz is all about. Let me tell you: that was one of the best decisions of my life. The week of Kairos, a lot of shit happened. Granted, it was a lot of emotional and social shit but it was shit nonetheless. As the day Kairos would begin grew closer, the more I just wanted it to arrive. I was ready to leave and just escape, even if it was only for three days. I just felt to stressed and stupid that relief was all I was looking for. Little did I know, I was still holding on to things of the past. With my phone off and at home, I boarded a bus that would take me on an hours journey to the place where I would spend my weekend with about 50 other people to experience life and understand more about ourselves and others.
I think my experience started before the actual retreat; I think it started on that bus ride. I was sitting with my friend whom I haven’t actually spoken with for about 5 months. I mean we talked but it wasn’t in depth. But, oh man, that one hour bus ride was an open door. I felt a burden lifted even before the retreat started. With that in mind, I was even more open and willing to try to be understanding during Kairos.
One of the first things that we did was listen to a witness from one of my friends. It hit home; I felt this reservoir of feelings just break through the barriers I had set up to be strong or to hide. The intensity of these feelings was so overwhelming. I broke almost immediately. It hurt so much that my friend had to go through all that; it scared me knowing that I think the same thing. My discussion with my small group jumped off a cliff into the unknown and depths and roots of our hurt, pain, and suffering.
The next witness was a day later and it was my friend’s, the one whom I sat with on the bus. To be quite honest, I was already tearing up before he even started. Just everything that we had talked about the day before flooded my mind and they’re ingraved permanently, but I’m happy they are because I’ll always remember what he went through. Anyways, half way through his witness, I broke again. It scared me so much. Just knowing that he went through all this while I knew him scared me so much; he hid is so well. I just couldn’t believe that it really happened. It wasn’t the guy I knew; it was someone totally different.
After a majority of the small groups had left for their discussion spots and the team leaders had given him a hug, I clung to him. It sounds weird but I’m dead serious. This kid is seriously one of my best friends and I have no idea what I would do without him. The story’s not mine; the experience isn’t mine but the person is my friend. What was so relieving for me though was that he hugged back just a tightly, just as hard. My tears were of fear and relieve and anger and hurt; his were most likely of relief that he finally told his story and that he knows that there’s someone always there for him. The tears literally did not stop. If you didn’t know what just happened, you’d probably think I was hysterical but you seriously do not understand how much this guy means to me.
During the night of the second day, everyone received letters from loved ones. It was really eye-opening and comforting. I think I realized that they were people with me who are willing to support me, whether I know it or not. Personally, my letter’s were very general. I actually felt kind of disappointed by them to say the least. I know effort was put into them but they were just so bleh that I didn’t feel anything. On the other hand, my friend (yes, the one I just talked about. I’m sorry if I talk about him a lot. He’s one of my best friends.) had really emotional letters. Tight hugs and tears resumed. I don’t know why but we always resort to speaking in Spanish with each other–I think it has to do with the comfort that people still don’t understand what we’re saying. He kept saying, “Gracias por tu. Gracias.” I was dumbfounded, absolutely dumbfounded. I think that definitely broke me in more ways than anything else.
One more thing that made this experience amazing was my small group. We were a motley group of people, most of us not knowing each other before this. That didn’t stop us from learning from and supporting each other. I think that if this retreat didn’t have small groups, nobody would change because we wouldn’t be forced to be with people we didn’t know, we wouldn’t be forced to see that many people are similar in more ways than not. I am so glad to have met this people and to hear about their own obstacles and struggles. I am proud to say that I want to change: I want to be more understanding; I want to be that hand that people can reach out for; I want to be the caring person that God calls me to be.
Kairos 24 has definitely changed my life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It has made such an impact on me that I can’t even begin to explain. I gained understanding; I gained advice. I gained comfort; I gained community. I am so thankful to have been able to attend and be apart of this retreat. If it’s anywhere near you, please attend one. It’s worth it a lot more than you think.
If you made it to this point, thanks for reading this extremely long post. Every word written here is honest and true. I am being my complete self.