Retreating – The Yearly Rhythm of Rest & Retreat

How was your last silent retreat?

I’m writing this blog post on a Sunday afternoon just after I’ve reviewed a suggested retreat schedule for my annual retreat.

Several years ago I made a decision to annually go away on a silent or private directed retreat. It was my aim to spend time in a peaceful place, to meet with my spiritual director, and to simply be.

I’ve packed my bags, have a few items to pick up tomorrow on my way to the retreat centre, but I’m ready.

I’m ready to be calm. To intentionally notice. To feel. To listen. To grieve. To give thanks. To experience & embrace the unexpected. To hear. To wait. To thoughtfully reflect. To carefully discern. To be still. To unplug (after an important Instagram Live announcement for the upcoming Equip & Inspire Series).

And it’s interesting for me this year in that I do have a bit of a different focus going in…how do you want me to continue to show up in the world, Lord? I’m focusing on two scripture passages (Psalm 86: 11-13 and Jeremiah 17: 5-8) while on retreat, and those two passages these past few weeks have become increasingly meaningful for me.

Something else that’s new for me this year is this: for the first few days another friend of mine is also going to be on retreat there. We will be connecting to listen together to what God might be telling us. I’m rather intrigued by the idea of listening together with someone else. Someone, that is, other than my spiritual director whom I usually meet with once a day. I have a curiosity going into this and a strong sense that God is inviting us both to something more. You could rightly say this is now more a semi-private directed retreat.

Why do I value setting time aside for a personal retreat?

Dallas Willard says:

If you don’t come apart for a while, you will come apart after a while.

I value retreating for a few reasons:

  • It’s a spiritual practice. It’s a practice that calls me to come to a deserted place. Yet, it’s also a place in which I’m invited to taste and see that the Lord is good.
  • Because Jesus did. He valued both time with his Father and time with others on retreat (Mark 6: 30-31).
  • Because every time I read about Jesus taking time away to pray, it seems that his next steps were guided by wisdom and clarity and power!
  • Because the world can be a noisy place and it can be hard to hear the whispers of God.
  • Because it’s good for my soul. I need to get clarity on the deepest longings of my soul.
  • Because it’s restful and unhurried.
  • It’s a time when I seek and find and rest in the unconditional love of God. God’s love wraps around me, holds me close, and reminds me of whose I am and who I am.
  • Kindness and compassion and grace and forgiveness flow and flow in abundance, being experienced in the deepest parts of me. Freedom comes to places in my heart I didn’t know needed to be free, but God knew. (2 Cor 3: 17)
  • It’s a time to recalibrate.
  • God makes me braver as he calms my fears and reminds me that He is Lord, even over the storms and the next things he’s inviting me to.
  • Because coming out of a retreat I feel empowered to show up more wholeheartedly.

And above all, I value retreat because I know that God loves me and wants to spend time with me. God wants to spend time with you, too!

Ruth Haley Barton says this:

The purpose of retreat is always twofold: to become more deeply grounded in God as the ultimate orienting reality of our lives, and to return to the life God has given us with renewed strength, vitality, and clarity about how we are called to be in God for the world.

So many reasons, friends…so many.

Friends, do you have sacred rhythms? Are you longing for more in your life but are unsure what that more is? Do you know that God longs to be with you? How are you cultivating intimacy with God in your life? Are you paying attention to the messages your body and soul are sending you?

When will your annual retreat happen?

Whatever the spiritual benefits of our retreat times, we must always remember that these blessings are not only for ourselves but for the sake of the communities we belong to – our families, circles of friendship, our churches, society at large. The experience of God pours loving energy into us, qualifies us to serve others with charm and delight. – Emilie Griffin

The Lord waits to be gracious to you,

Pastor Carmen

2 comments

  1. I’ve never thought of going on a personal retreat to get alone with God but it sounds like something I’d love. Can these be conference retreats or are these personal quiet, locked away in a room, retreat? How often do you do them and for how long?

    1. They can be all of the above or non of the above. When I first started going I went on a silent (3-day) retreat put on by the retreat centre. Now, I like to book in by myself (though this time another friend is here on hers also), pre book appointments with my spiritual director, and be present in the moment, bringing books, runners, a journey and my Bible. That said, I like both types, but for me to do a group one it needs to have a particular type of focus or focussed teachings.

      As for length, it can vary. My preference is no less than three days and no longer than ten. But I am flexible in that too, it just depends what I am sensing I need. As for how often, for sure once a year and then add in as needed.

      When I am back from retreat and back at church (away preaching this coming Sunday), I am happy to chat further with you about types of retreats.

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