I came to Kairos for one reason. I needed to know what it was. All of my friends that went on it all just said the same thing, “it’s just so awesome, just do it.” When I’d ask why, they could never give me an answer. They just “can’t say.” Well I wanted to find out what it was, so that meant doing it. But there’s one problem… I’m not religious. After (ironically) multiple trips to Campus Ministry to talk with Ms. White, Mr. Haggerty, or whomever else might have been in there at the time, I decided what the hell. If I hated it, there’s only 24 hours in a day, and at least I’d miss two days of school. Granted, I realized that I could just Google this whole “Kairos Cult” and find out, but, I would rather experience something, well most things, than read about it. So I got the papers signed, wrote the check, and hiked back down to Ms. White and handed them over.
As I write this portion of the article, I have to say that I am currently on the retreat, writing this from a bunk at Inspiration Hills. From this, the tail end of day two, I can tell you a few things.
1) It is definitely designed for the religious. And not just Catholic or Christian. Substitute God and Bible verses for your Almighty and sacred words, and you will have the same experience. For the non religious like myself, it’s calming. Just listening to the nice music, and being around people thinking/praying in silence, you cannot help but notice the serenity of the situation.
2) It isn’t a cult in the “don’t drink the Kool-aid” way of being a cult. No, it’s more like a family type of thing. However, you will find yourself telling people in your small-groups, whom you may have only met in passing through the halls, things that only your best friend knows, stuff that your family doesn’t know. And even stuff that you didn’t realize, it all just comes out. So, as a participant who did not expect to say anything at all, this “cult” feels more like a close friend group, who you know that you could go to again, and again, and they would understand.
3) This retreat should be a requirement in the St. Eds curriculum; however, I fully understand why it is not. The people here are here because they, or their parents, made the conscious decision to be here, and honestly, having been on prior retreats where this is not at all the case, it makes all of the difference.
4) This is not a field trip. Again. This is not a field trip. This is, in the simplest way possible, a “feels” trip. You will find things out about yourself, and your fellow retreat mates, that you could never have known, or even guessed. And you won’t be prepared for that. The person reading this– yes you– needs a hug. (Yes, you do.) And so does that random stranger you saw walking down the street.
I came here to expose this cult. To find out why the only reason was “just go.” Honestly, from this skeptic came someone who understands that ” just go” now has a completely different meaning. It’s not an “I refuse to tell you,” but rather an “It’s completely different for everyone and I cannot put it in a nutshell for you.” There have been tears, laughter, pain, and healing. These three days (technically two at the time of this writing) feel like a lifetime because they are. You will be looking at your entire life during those days. What is said about many things in life fully rings true. You will get out of Kairos what you put into it. If you do go, put as much as you can into it. You will get that back, but somehow, “it” will be better. It’ll be lighter. It’ll be nicer. It won’t be fixed, and it won’t be perfect. But it will be more manageable. I hope previous attendees, and leaders of Kairos accept, or even embrace this article, as the best way to put three days of this experience into words.
TLDR: Should you attend Kairos? Well, as much as it annoys me to say it, “Just go.”