On Retreat

I’m not sure what the words “on retreat” stir, or for that matter do not stir, in you.

Many of us have been on retreats that don’t resemble a retreat in any fashion. The schedule is packed solid from early morning to late in the evening. There is no space for personal reflection. Activities are the norm and expected. The point of getting away is an information download – “dump.” No wonder we walk away feeling more emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. 

Decades ago (that makes me sound old) I remember becoming part of leadership team that organized the retreat around that mantra. We were proud that we gave them so much information. We thrived on their exhaustion. It was almost a badge of honor to have blank stares by the closing session on Sunday early afternoon.

For the second year in a row I am on retreat. But I choose my retreats carefully. First and foremost, any retreat has to have at its core the value of recreation: re-creating me at every level. Nothing short of this goal!

So here I am in northern mid-Michigan. Here’s what I’ve experienced already and am creating space for such activities to continue:

The leaders of the retreat arrived 24 hours early to relax, unwind, converse, share, have some wine, and of course, smoke a cigar.

This morning we quietly entered the day; grateful and asking for blessings.

In the hours before the retreat begins it is eerily quiet. There’s a guy napping in front of the fire. Somebody just stopped me to ask a question and then quietly walked away. The mood is good and the conversations are more hushed and reflective. Everything is all set up and now we getting ready to receive the fellow retreaters.

This evening begins with a great dinner and then rhythm of sessions, which include many stories. After each session there is a “covenant of silence” for 45 minutes, to journal and reflect.

Each evening ends with cigars around the fire.

We will not leave this retreat exhausted.

Challenged? Certainly!

Inspired! No doubt!

Re-created! If we’re open!

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