“Now is the time for hope”, was the theme of our last weekend retreat. Six young people came to our house to participate and another four used zoom. Momoko and Seika, two girls who take part in our evangelization school, helped us in the preparation. Once again we witnessed how young people reach the hearts of young people best. Those who participated were either students or had just started working. They are at the stage where they begin to consider their future or to face the reality of the working world which is very demanding here in Japan.
We began with the hope that Jesus brings us through Christmas. He came to show us that we have a God who is so madly in love with us that he became one of us. It was our starting point for reflection on the theme of hope: What do we put our hope in? Where do we look for hope? When do we lose it? When have we been hope for others? How do we get it back? What are our false hopes? …
Ai, one of the girls who participated, discovered the true hope she was looking for in her heart.
She is twenty-two years old and in the fourth year of her degree, a time when students start looking for jobs in Japan and have a lot of job interviews. It´s what´s expected and it is difficult to break this norm. Ai studies French literature and is really interested in art. Her dream is to dedicate herself to painting. She started looking for work, like all her colleagues, in a company that would provide her with a secure salary, but after a lot of hesitation, she decided not to look for that sort of work.
In the retreat she understood why she had felt discouraged during the time of interviews. She wanted to get into a good company as a designer and it hadn’t worked out, but at the same time she did not want to give up her dream. She then made the decision to let go of the security, the social status that it could give her and chose to respond to what she felt is her vocation deep down. She had lost her joy when she put her hope in financially controlling her future: but when she gave up this “hope” it brought her peace. To her surprise, she began to receive many offers for what she really wants to do. She feels this is her mission: through painting she expresses what she has inside and at the same time contemplating her paintings has helped many people.
It´s a time where we are all invited to find reasons for hope. We thank God for this retreat weekend which helped us find them by discovering that we are unconditionally loved by God. This love gives us stability.