I just got back from an awesome, four-day retreat with high school junior and senior girls. I was one of the co-directors of the retreat in conjunction with the other catholic high school in town. This is the first of three this year. The boys are up next in January. I have written about this retreat before, and unfortunately cannot give any details in fear of ruining the experience for any of my students who have yet to go. It was such a powerful experience for everyone, even the leaders. I thank God for the opportunity to serve Him and to serve others, to see and be part of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. I think I can share the following experience from this retreat without giving anything away.
Have you ever walked into a room full of people and suddenly your eyes met the eyes of another person? Was the look powerful? Did you feel nervous and quickly turn away? Or did you continue to look and soon realize that things were getting too intense so you let your eyes wander, but come back to meet again? Or was the connection just so overwhelming that you couldn’t pull your eyes away from the other person’s eyes?
I had one of those types of eye-to-eye contact this weekend. It happened during a break right after a time when one particular girl, one of my students, had shared a very painful experience. This brought a wave of sorrow over me. I just wanted to cry like a rain drop melting into a river. During the break, I approached the group she was chit-chatting with. As I stepped into the group, our eyes locked. Time stopped. In her eyes, in that moment, I saw her pain; I saw her joy. I could see that she still had a passion and spark for life despite her agony.
The old cliché is that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and in that moment I saw deep into her soul. I saw sorrow, but also joy. I saw tears, but also laughter. I saw love, faith, and hope. I pray that she saw into my soul at the same time and could see compassion, mercy, and love. If I could find the right thing to say that would ease her pain, I would search the world over for her; but unfortunately, there is no such word. There is only the love of Christ. He is the Word. And in that moment, I saw Jesus in her.