Retreat Day #4: Wrestling in the Wilderness

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

The scent of coffee fills the dining room as the Sisters gather, by foot and by wheelchair, for our 4th day of retreat. Today we are treated to the story of Jacob, which we are reminded to read as our own story.

Jacob, whose name means “to grab,” spends a goodish portion of his life taking advantage of others, and controlling whatever he could control. Indeed, when God visits him, Jacob says he will worship Him if God makes good on his promises.

God’s answer? “I am with you.”

We’re used to that by now, right? And we’re used to the fact that no bargaining is ever going to work with God. We can’t promise to obey as long as we agree with the request; we can’t promise to pray as long as we have time.

Eventually, Jacob finds himself in a night-long wrestling match with a Mysterious Individual. At dawn, the Individual says, “Let me go.” Jacob (“the grabber”) refuses until his Opponent blesses him. When the blessing occurs, Jacob goes away, limping.

Jacob was changed by the encounter.

We are all changed by holy encounters. Such encounters happen along the way … in the wilderness.

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