An Invitation to Retreat
Jesus invites us,"Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark. 6:11 The idea of taking a ‘Retreat’ in our busy world almost seems like an admission of failure, of giving up, of pulling away from requirements of work, family, and friends; an admission that I can’t do this on my own...Well, we can’t. Trying to keep the pace we are expected to keep without a time for the ‘soul to catch up’ is impossible and has enabled the worry sickness of anxiety to visit us far too often. In our times of anxiety, caused often by the worry of not living up to all the expectations and roles that we have taken on, we need so much to stop, be quiet, and hear the voice of God. Whether we choose to take an hour, a day, or a week, we need to regularly take times of silence, solitude and prayer. To retreat means ‘to withdraw.’ Modern living can make us very unaccustomed to silence and stillness. Often we feel threatened by the thought of silence even for a short time. But when we deliberately slow ourselves down, listen and pray, we become more aware of the presence of God in our lives. To retreat is to take this deliberate step away from our everyday lives, to reflect on where we have been and where we are going; to catch a glimpse of how we might live differently; and to listen for the still, small voice of God. Preparing for retreat is different than preparing for vacation. Here, less is more. Entering into a spiritual retreat is entering into a place where God is the author. We must come unencumbered, bringing only what we need that will enhance our time with God. We must plan to ‘unplug’ for a specific time period. Turn off our cell phones, our computers, and any other electronics we may have, or better yet, leave them at home or the office. This will allow us to have uninterrupted conversations with our Heavenly Father. Plan for times of silence. Good music and entertainment certainly have their place, but they set the course for our thinking. If we make the conscious choice to not fill our world with noise, but to be silent for a time, we give up that control and offer it back to God allowing Him to direct our thoughts and prayers. Plan to journal. It can help us explore the road we have traveled; to articulate what we’re learning and how we can incorporate it into our everyday life. It also serves as a reminder as we continue on our journey. Plan to enjoy God’s creation. Go to a retreat centre that has been dedicated to encouraging people to quiet their hearts and hear God’s still small voice whispering words of affirmation and care. Open the blinds or the windows, and let the sights and sounds of His creation permeate your space. Go outside for a walk, or hike, and find your own secret spot to rest with Him. Psalm 121:1 declares, “I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” As you take time to step away from the everyday, to be still, silent, and rest, you will feel more settled, equipped and renewed to continue the call that God has placed on your heart. May you find a place of retreat. Our prayer, as we invite you to come away to a quiet place and get some rest, is expressed through these few words from an old hymn: “Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease; Take from our souls the strain and stress, And let our ordered lives confess The beauty of thy peace.”2 Be still and know…
1 The Holy Bible New International Bible, Cornerstone Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee, 1999, n.d.
2 John Greenleaf Whittier, Dear Lord and Father of Us all, A guide to Prayer Rueben P. Job, Norman Shawchuck, (The Upper Room, Nashville Tn,1983), 212