I was expecting a lot of things for my retreat, but I wasn’t expecting that not wearing eyeliner would be one of them.
By most standards, I don’t wear much makeup. Despite the fact that my mother has sold it for my entire life, I don’t like even really talking about it or experimenting with it or purchasing it. I utilize it, but I don’t really care about it. On retreat, I eliminated it from my morning routine for a few practical reasons: I wasn’t going “out” anywhere and it seemed it would only look worse when I would inevitably cry as the Lord worked through different matters within me.
The second or third day of not wearing eyeliner, I found myself looking in the mirror, slightly bewildered. That is what my eyes actually look like? My fair complexion and light hair is exactly why someone created eyeliner and mascara. Without it, my eyes aren’t as emphasized and everything looks a little paler.
Since I was on a silent retreat, I leaned into the discomfort rather than away from it. It wasn’t about vanity so much. I would look in the mirror and I would remind myself: these are your eyes. This is what they actually look like. And as the days passed, they seemed more mine. It stopped seeming like I was missing something that ought to be there, but rather that I was seeing reality. When I left retreat, I found that I wanted to keep seeing those eyes that are really mine and in the way they actually are.
(Stick with me, guys, I promise this is not an entire post about makeup!)
I’m not swearing off eyeliner: it does what it is supposed to do–it makes my eyes stand out. But I realized on retreat that I never want to forget what my eyes actually look like. It was a perfect physical takeaway from the tremendous interior work that the Lord was doing during that time of silence. The entire retreat was one of re-crafting my eyes to see me how the Lord actually sees me.
Over the past year, so many stresses and situations had entered the picture, causing the truth to become obstructed. I walked into the retreat seeing things one way. And I left with new eyes and a truer perspective of how things stood. I walked in with a stress headache and feeling the burden of my work and responsibilities. And I left simply desiring to be an infant, cradled on the chest of the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and Our Lord. Jesus worked by quietly reminding me of my true posture: one as a child in total need of everything the Father has to offer. My self-sufficiencies, my independence, my practicality, and my desire to be useful were thrown to the wind. All that was needed was for me to just be, to rest, and to remain close to the hearts of the ones who love best.
It wasn’t that I became a child. This little child simply remembered to put down her adult-like distractions and enter into the reality of being little. Now, I hate when young people make a big deal about “adulting” as though mid- to late-20s is far too early to grow up when past generations were marrying, making homes, and going off to war years before that. So that isn’t what I mean when I say I remembered I am a child. I will still need to return to work in the fall and I am confident the bank will still want its mortgage payment regardless of my newfound spiritual childhood.
Instead, what I mean is that we often forget that we are wholly and entirely dependent on the Lord, like a child is on the parents, but even more so. We masquerade as being independent when we are reliant upon Another for our next breath, our next heartbeat, our next morning. To refuse to acknowledge our state of complete and utter dependence, is to live in a false reality. Recognizing that I am a little child, incapable of controlling the future or other people, is so freeing because it is so true. It rekindled in me the desire to listen to this innate desire I have to rest near the heart of my Blessed Mother, her holy spouse, and her divine son.
I am seeing with new eyes, a reality which always was, but which I had forgotten was true.