JC2 Retreat 2018: The Journey Begins
Reflections by Amanda Joan Lim (2T05) and Christopher Chin (2T04)
The JC2 Retreat for me was one that was personal,
meaningful and insightful, while still managing to be a great way to bond with
my fellow CJCians. The teachers managed to achieve the perfect balance of
personal reflections and giving us time to appreciate our friends, mainly
through everyone’s favourite warm fuzzies!
Before the retreat, I had promised myself to be as open as possible to God’s grace, especially since I am one who is terrified of vulnerability. The retreat opened with a walk through a labyrinth. Initially, I was both perplexed and skeptical: how was it possible that this walk, that did not even require decision making, could ever make me reflect on myself? Well, I was definitely wrong about that. Walking through the labyrinth made me question my purpose, my beliefs, and most of all it made me more appreciative of the gifts that God has given me: my family, my friends, and education. Something about walking around hundreds of glowsticks made me realise that there was so much change I needed in my life and I had been living in a blur: a blur of my own denial, how I denied how badly I needed to appreciate my parents, for I am truly blessed to have parents like them.
Being a person who finds it immensely difficult to let go of both good and bad things, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders as I stepped into the center of the labyrinth, where I realised I had not trusted God to take care of anything I was doing and that was the reason I have been afraid to let go. This immediate realisation brought me down to my knees in tears. There was no one else I could depend on with eternal faith other than God. In opening my emotions, I was better able to receive God’s message to me. Initially, I thought I had psyched myself into thinking I was hearing God but then I heard an even stronger message that told me, “Do not fret my child, your time will come”.
With this in mind, the rest of the retreat gave me the chance to discover a whole new way I was going to approach my life, one that is filled with gratitude and positivity, and to be someone who has never-ending faith in God. After all, everything happens for a reason and bad things are God’s way of telling you: “Do not fret my child, your time will come.”
— Amanda Joan Lim, 2T05
(Above: the Chartres Labyrinth, set up in CJC’s Auditorium)
The JC2 Retreat 2018 was nothing short of life-changing for
me and for many other CJCians, past and present. In those one-and-a-half days,
we were invited into a time of reflection and introspection, beginning with the
labyrinth walk, followed by a day of sharing with our teachers and
facilitators, and closing off with Holy Mass. Though it was short, the
experience has filled me with warmth and wisdom, and has impacted me in ways I
had never expected.
Before the retreat, I was unsure of what I would gain that would be significant, considering its short duration and proximity to the ‘A’ Levels. However, as the events of the retreat began to unravel, I found myself beginning to unravel as well. I shared my thoughts and troubles with teachers I had never spoken to, as well as ex-CJCians whom I had never met, and I realised that there was an underlying understanding between all of us here who call CJC home. As someone who rarely had the courage to share with strangers, I found it unexpectedly easy to pour out my pent-up frustrations to the people I had the opportunity to talk to. Whether it was my questions about belief in God, my struggle for identity, or the difficulties in my faith journey, the teachers and facilitators always responded with a relatable warmth that was simply and uniquely CJCian. Though they did not share my past experiences, they always knew what to say. My faith was reignited by this warmth, as was my trust in myself, because I knew I had people who trusted in me.
When I first came to CJC, I was hopeful and excited for a brand-new adventure with brand new people. However, as the exam pressure, and the tension of friendships worsened, I found it near impossible to regard myself as part of CJC. I didn’t think of myself as a CJCian. It was the JC2 Retreat which made me realise that what needed change was not the institution, but my own perspective. I realised that as long as I was ready and humble enough to accept it, CJC and its people offered the reassurance of a family who would support you in all that you do and guide you along the right path whenever you wander astray. CJC is not its building, or what people say about us. CJC is its people – and we have some of the best people you’ll ever meet.
In short, I would like to encourage any CJCians yet to experience this magical retreat to go with an open mind and open heart. No matter what your faith background is, no matter how religious you are, and no matter who you are, this retreat is truly life-changing, and is an experience you’ll find nowhere else, but in CJC.
— Christopher Gerard Chin, 2T04