The real world. It’s a rat race. People pit against people to be the fastest, most efficient, and most workaholic workers on the face of the planet. It happens inside those steel trees called office buildings under the watchful eyes of the creme de la creme of busyness and haste who go by the name bosses. I won’t start telling the different types of bosses or different types of workers. One thing is sure though, they’re all after the ladder of success.
Students on the other hand, may be looked down by their older young professionals as having the easiest life of all. Yet even at the age of 4 or 5, kids particularly students lead a busy life as well. They study for school with a bid to reach the top spot of their school rankings, all the while trying to learn a musical instrument, discover a their best singing voice, or have tutorial lessons from someone outside the school. Even a students try to reach a ladder of success dictated by adults.
Yet the ladder of success is a prestigious ladder. Prestigious in the old sense of the word – deceptive. The overworked bosses and workers get too caught up in the race to “success” that they don’t realize that real success is not the money, fame or the power, the real success is who lives the most meaningful life of all. To reach that life, you need to grab the nearest exit, pause and then slow down.
One place where pausing and slowing down is possible is a place called St. John Mary Vianney Retreat Center. It’s a retreat center near the mountain ranges of Sierra Madre in Central Luzon, particularly in the province of Bulacan.
October 29, 30 and 31, we were able to experience the relaxing environment of the retreat center after more than an hour of travel from Manila. IF you’re a Catholic, you’d find comfort in the many statues of saints. Apparently we weren’t Catholics so the statues were bizarre rather than comforting (no offense meant, we’re just not used to those things!).
The center is rather small, but what it lacks in size it makes up in ambiance. You can feel the breeze even indoors with its windows. You really feel close to God‘s creation with the balcony view of the vast mountain ranges of Sierra Madre. You also get to smell the wonderful smoke-free atmosphere, hear the sound of silence and revere the solitude. Every corner is a corner for meditation, some areas even have Bibles beside the chairs so you can really learn more about our wonderful Creator. And because you’re close to nature, get closer to the flora and the fauna which is also abundant in the place. Critters like grasshoppers, butterflies, and the like are abundant as well as flowers of varying colors.
Accommodations are also warm. When travelling alone, there are rooms that could accommodate 2-4 people. When travelling as a big group, there are dormitory type rooms with bathrooms. Food is also provided when you reserve the place for your retreat. You can also choose the meal if you are a picky eater.
Over all, the stay is worth while if it is to have a fresh place to open up your mind and pause. For a small price, it’s enough to let you realize that there’s more to life than work and unnecessary busyness, there’s more to God than a warehouse, and there’s more to slowing down than meets the eye.