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  • Writer's pictureTaryn Watkins

Where it all began

It all began in the mountains of Subiaco. Overlooking a cliff seeing out into mountains with rivers of mist flowing over them and a light drizzle. Most people go inside when it's raining... I didn't. And it's one of the most important decisions I've ever made.

But let's back up.

I began my first pilgrimage with a group of students from my college Newman center. But I have signed up for this pilgrimage not knowing what pilgrimage was. I just wanted to go to Italy and see beautiful things. And I did! I cannot describe the impression I had stepping foot into St Paul's Outside the Walls... it was so unlike anything I had ever seen in my life. I had learned so much, seen so much, was being filled with the presence of God in the beauty of the Church, in the reality of Jesus (I mean walking up the stairs he walked up make Him so real). Yet I found an absence deep in my soul like a cord of light that is stretched so thin it snapped... I didn't know that cord existed before, but finding it broken I find everything else doesn't matter but that. And these beautiful things brought such a sharp contrast to the unbeautiful... and the absence.

On Mount Subasio outside of Assisi on my first pilgrimage in 2006. It is strange to think about the whole world of things going on interiorly at this moment.

I didn't think I think happiness existed. It was like fairy stories and trolls... anyone could describe them but no one believed in them. There was an indescribable suffering. About a month before this I had heard of Adoration... had desperately thought this was my only hope not knowing what it was or why... But for that hour there was true silence. I started going every night... And that hour of silence and Presence saved my life. I mention it because it was God calling me and preparing me for what came next, what changed everything.

Sitting on those cliffs in the solitude of the rain... I don't really remember if I was thinking or just crying out to God wordlessly (I didn't know how to pray) but what was before is nothing to what was after ... suddenly like a lightning bolt I felt God's presence in my soul in a way unlike I had ever felt or have ever experience again.

He was there.

I don't know how long I sat there with Him but that moment is the pivotal fulcrum of my entire life. Nothing was the same. Well, everything was the same, difficulties, suffering, darkness, absence... But there was hope, God existed, happiness existed. Then about a week later after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist I made a promise that even if I never felt Him again, I would follow Him no matter what.. not knowing what that meant. And just as suddenly as the lightning, everything was lifted. It changed how colors looked and things smelled! This is the hardest moment in my life to describe... I don't do it justice, but for years after that simply thinking of that moment would being me to tears of joy.



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