It’s been twelve blissfully cool days with Middle Son and family here in Atlanta. After the first couple days of touching base with friends I have to confess I’ve spent the majority of my free time nestling in the cutest little room on the second floor of their spacious home. It is wonderful little room with a large window which showcases a wall of tall, green, beautiful trees.
I love the view from this window because whether I’m standing sitting or lying down all I see is a curtain of vividly green leaves. It’s an east facing window so virtually every morning I am awakened by dancing rays of sunlight flickering across my face. I love it so much that after I fully wake up I just lay in bed gazing out on the dawn for close to an hour. I start out to praying but most of the time I lay there feeling thankful and blessed for peace and calm and beauty.
It’s a lot like being on retreat.
Being ‘on retreat’ or ‘taking a retreat’ is defined as ‘a period of quiet rest and contemplation in a secluded place’. In other words, ‘getting away from it all’. In the early days of the church, retreats were individual times of separation from the world to still your heart and mind in order to be able to better hear from God. One would go on to a retreat house or prayer facility dedicated to providing an avenue for the opening of your heart and spirit. This was generally a solitary exercise set aside as a time to develop your relationship with God.
In the modern church today we tend to think of retreats as going away for a time (usually a weekend) with a group of people. Generally the men’s and women’s ministries at your local church will sponsor group retreats. There are sometimes retreats for older teens and the children may also have their summer day camps. The singles group at my church went on a retreat to San Antoine a year ago and we had a wonderful time of fun and fellowship. All of these times of retreat will strengthened the relationship of church members with God and each other. I have enjoyed the ones I attended. I would encourage everyone to attend a good group retreat at least once a year especially if your church sponsors one.
I encourage you to schedule a time for a solitary retreat just for yourself. There are times when being away for awhile, alone with God is what your soul really needs. Give it a try. Take a weekend and spend the night in a hotel or search the internet for a retreat house or prayer facility near you where you can spend a couple of days.Turn off your cell phone. Leave your laptop at home. It will be a wonderful time of refreshing. After the first time you take a solitary retreat you’ll start to crave them. You’ll come back rested in body, renewed in your faith and with a stronger, deeper relationship with God.
Been on retreat lately? Planning to go on one soon? Tell us about your favorite way to 'retreat'.