I know I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating; get away! Get away from household chores, get away from kids, family, friends. Get away and get quiet.
For me, this has become something my spirit longs for. It wasn’t always so. My first silent retreat was a bit of a disaster that involved a lot of pacing and letter writing. If I couldn’t talk to a friend, I’d write her my every thought.
But after years of practice, I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. I try to take a 24-hour retreat once a month, but the pandemic made that very difficult. I’m so grateful things are opening up again and I had a much needed retreat this week. The most important part of this for me is the gift of TIME. Time to quiet myself. Time to walk in the trees. Time to listen.
I love this quote by Henri Nouwen,
“Nature is God’s first language.”
I find this to be true for me. When I can sit outside on the green grass among the flowers and trees, I can hear God better.
On my recent retreat I had a hard decision to make. Sometimes it’s harder to say “No,” to something we want than it is to say “Yes” to something we don’t want. At least that is true for me. Something I wanted came my way, but it just didn’t feel right. On my retreat I was able to process why it wasn’t a good fit. I read, I prayed, I walked, I sat. I napped (this is very important) and I reached out to some wise counselors. Taking the time to sort out important decisions is a great way to spend a retreat. I even walked the labyrinth. It was a great day.
Take a walk with me...
If you can’t take 24 hours away, try to find two hours even if you must swap childcare with a friend. Drive somewhere lovely: a park, or a river, or a lake, and just be in nature. Listen, rest, contemplate. It’s amazing what gifts that kind of silence will bring. Taking a long hike is another way to experience this kind of retreat. Most people I know, who have grown in contemplative practices, find it is easiest to hear God in nature. So, if you can, get outside.
But there are those that are house bound for some reason. I’ve taken virtual retreats that have also been lovely. The curse of the pandemic is that so many folks with compromised immune systems have had to stay home for a long time. The hidden blessing of the pandemic is the world learning to do things online. Virtual retreats are available, just google them. I took a nine-day virtual retreat to Ireland and Scotland, and it was amazing.
What kind of retreats have worked for you? How do you make time and space for them?