Can a single moment change a person’s life forever?

I’ve been Catholic all my life, but wasn’t involved and didn’t really care. I just knew my parents made me go to church every Sunday. When we first moved here, to Georgia, I had gotten really depressed so my mom thought she would get me involved with the Youth Group.

As the Youth Group was going on their first retreat of the school year, everybody was encouraging me to go. Though I didn’t want to, I still went anyway.

When we got to the camp, I instantly felt alone and out of place. All the camp adults were saying, “Welcome Home!!” and the teens were saying, “Yay! I’m at home away from home!” We then threw all our bags and stuff in our cabins and went to a beautiful building not to far away from our cabins. When we first got into the building, everybody went straight to their best church friends and mingled. I wasn’t really friends with anyone at the time, so I was just there standing waiting for something to happend. 

Then a woman came out onto this little black stage, grabbed a mic and said, “Hello everyone! Welcome to Fall Retreat! I’m Melissa the Youth Minister at Saint Monica’s. Now before we go to bed for a fun filled day tomorrow, we are gonna have some worship time.”

All of a sudden the lights dimmed down and all I saw were two tv screens with lyrics on them, a drum, and a man standing nearby behind the microphone with a guitar. Then the man with the guitar started playing and everybody just closed their eyes and started singing with the man. I felt so out of place. I wasn’t passionate enough like everybody else. I didn’t even know the words. But I started singing anyway.

As the night went on we just sang and Praised, before I knew it, it was 10:30. We went back to our cabins, got ready for bed, and everybody went to sleep. 

When everybody got up we met in that beautiful building again and everybody sat on the floor and waited for something to happen. Then Melissa came back on the little black stage and said, “Merry Christmas! This weekend we will be journeying what Christmas means to us as Catholics. Now as you see we have Christmas Trees up with cards on them. There is one for each of you. Come up, find yours, and open it!!” So I went and found my Christmas card. It felt so good to know people had written in a card for you.

After the Christmas cards and some other activities, Melissa said, “Now I want all the Sophomores and Juniors to follow Ashley and Patrick.” I had learned the night before that Ashley was another Youth Minister and Patrick was the guy that played guitar. So I followed all the Sophomores, Juniors, Ashley, Patrick, and Melissa followed.

Melissa had said what we were going to do but I didn’t understand. Ashley, Patrick, and Melissa pasted out cloths and blindfolded each teen, then I’m guessing Patrick got his guitar and starting playing because someone started playing the guitar. Melissa grabbed me first and guided me across a field. Still not knowing what we were doing but I followed. She then stopped me and I heard, “We don’t want you! We want Barabus!!” And then tears started coming out of my eyes and then I knew exactly what we were doing. We were going through The Passion of Christ. Then I heard the whips, Melissa then took a long board and put it behind my shoulders and made me hold it behind my shoulders, like I was carrying the Cross. As she walked me further down the field, she took the board laid it down on the ground and laid me on the ground with my arms spread out, with my hands on each end. There was someone behind me with a board and a hammer. Melissa then took a nail and put it in the palm of my hand and as the person behind me was pounding the board Melissa then pushed the nail in my hand just a little each time. 

After she was finished she stood me up and took off my blindfold and saw the tears running down my face, my eyes all red, and mascara running down my face.

She gave me a hug and whispered to me, “That’s how much God loves you!” with a big smile on her face, I shook my head and hugged her. As I was walking back to where the rest of the group was I couldn’t stop crying. When we got back to the group, Melissa went and grabbed someone else and I grabbed my notebook, pen and glass and was told to go sit somewhere and journal about what I just went through. 

When I got to where I chose to sit and be alone, I could barely write, I tried but I was shaking so bad. It was the most terrifying thing that I have been through but I think I needed it. 

So the answer to the question, “Can a single moment change a person’s life forever?” is yes. Wasn’t a “good” catholic and now I’ve changed so much. I have gotten out of some really bad habits and changed my life completely. Not saying my life is perfect, because it isn’t, but saying that it is just a little bit better.

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  1. Wow! Powerful Hayley! Brought tears to my eyes! I love you! – Aunt Teri

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