Looking through the paper one day, I noticed an ad for a special mass being held at a certain church, and my spirit drew me to attend this service. Simply entering the sanctuary boggled my mind. Hundreds of people harmonized in multiple octaves, singing while holding their hands in the air, worshipping the Lord! I practically stopped breathing in my awe and wonder at the sounds I heard and the ecstasy I witnessed.
John whispered, “I don’t know what they’ve got, but I want it.” He led me down the aisle to sit in the second row, most unusual for a confirmed back row man. As John and I left the mass, I picked up a notice advertising a weekend retreat revolving around a Renewal of the Holy Spirit taking place at a church in Oakland. My heart palpitated wildly. Was this the Lord speaking to me?
I casually handed the flyer to John, “Wanna go?”
He skimmed it and handed it back. “Can’t afford it.”
I prayed, “Lord, if You want us to attend this retreat, You will have to arrange it.
That week, a friend called to see if J.J. could spend the weekend with them. Another friend called to ask if she could take Jo out of town with her and her daughter. John, free from work, brought home a bonus check that paid our way, and we found ourselves spending Friday through Sunday at St. Benedicts.
We carried our bags, seeming to tiptoe through the polished hallways of an old monastery, to our assigned room, which provided a breathtaking view of the Bay. The quaintness of our surroundings made me feel romantic. I circled my arms around John from the back, “Honey, how about trying out this bed before dinner?”
He uncurled my arms and stepped away, “We’re not here for that.”
We ate a light supper in a dining room below ground then headed upstairs, along with the other strangers, to the chapel. I had never seen a yellow chapel before. It dazzled me. Father Robert spoke about the living Presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives; frankly I don’t remember what he said. Then we adjourned for a twelve-hour retreat of silence and a good night’s sleep. John had made it clear that was all I was going to get anyway.
The rest of the weekend was just plain fun. About 20 of us attending, played some games, made some friends, and relaxed. We created skits, acted out the parting of the Red Sea, and sang. By the time Father Robert asked us on Sunday morning to step forward if we wanted to have a closer walk with the Holy Spirit, all of us made the step.
The musicians played, the singers sang, and Father Robert probably laid hands on everyone. I don’t know. My eyes were closed. What I do know is that a hand gently touched the top of my head, and the next thing I knew the Holy Spirit had surrounded me, and laid me on the floor, like I was in the middle of the Burning Bush. Others on the church’s team prayed for me and I heard a woman say, who was sitting beyond my head, “Let her sing like the angels who worship You, Father.” And out of my mouth came a song in the most beautiful words I ever heard. A strong wind blew about the sanctuary that I could hear, but not feel, and light seemed to be dancing off the painted yellow walls.
Only a handful of us had such a dramatic experience of the Lord that day. John was not one of them. I asked him about it later, and he said, “Maybe I’m not supposed to get all the goose bumps.”
I protested. “Anybody can have the Lord in His fullness. All you have to do is to sincerely want Him; you heard Father Robert.”
“It’ll come when God’s ready for me to have more of Him. I think there’s something in the way right now.” John’s face looked grim. I didn’t ask what that “something” was; I didn’t want to be accused of “always bringing the subject up.”