Monica Khoo

A few years ago, my knowledge of God and faith was like the last coin in an old discarded piggy bank – a glimmer of hope that would not be enough to make me rich in any way. Each time I negotiated my way to church or pray, it was mostly out of desperation and the need for divine intervention. The truth is, I had struggled for some time with many problems that had begun to eat away and take the form of horrifying nightmares. Soon, the sleepless me was replaced by utter anguish, bitter cynicism and a vicious cycle of livid hurt at any one in my way. I finally found myself crying at how I could end up feeling so crippled with a sense of loss, misery and regret.  I felt that I was shunned by God for my disgusting iniquities. I questioned why and if He could not see what was happening. I started asking if God could take this lousy life and how all the burdens that lay ahead would be resolved.

I was drawn to CER because I felt I may actually need to be converted. The fact is, I don’t know much about the Word of God and was not inclined to think that this was going to change me entirely but felt oddly compelled to go.

I battled the first day, wondering whether I would stay or go, as I was afraid and didn’t know anyone. This would be my very first full retreat. Initially, it was tough to understand what Fr Goh was saying because I had been out of touch for so long but soon, the words had begun to affect me.

We were encouraged to spend time at the Centre’s Adoration Chapel so I ventured at first out of obligation. But each time I walked there the burdens I had gradually grew lighter and it became easier for me to carry myself there. In front of the Blessed Sacrament, a great sense of peace washed over me on the second night and a stranger named Slumber found a way in. You see, I don’t sleep sitting up no matter how tired I get so I believe that this was my Healing. From that brief slumber, the nightmares that had invaded my sleep were gone when I awoke (I only realised this later). When I finally graduated from CER, I felt irrevocably changed; for good.

One year has passed and I am pleased to admit that I still sleep well. In fact, so well sometimes I miss the alarm in the morning!  I also have a new job now. Though work can at times be stressful, I no longer dread it. I also understand that my faith has grown by the Grace of God since the retreat and that a hurdle before me is no longer a ‘why me’ exchange but a silent trust in the Lord instead. Yes, Trust – an emotion I once argued so passionately that it has to be earned. I humbly submit today that Trust is not earned but freely and abundantly showered upon me from God and Jesus. No matter how thin the ice is under my feet, faith has grounded me. As St Peter had trouble walking on water till he had trust, I too, now know that I can walk on the running waters when the thin ice breaks. Praise be to God! I will try not to keep asking but just be still. I rejoice indeed that CER has brought me full circle. I am aware now the journey ahead is no longer daunting because in song or deeds, Trust in the Lord is all it takes.

Monica Khoo
CER 10