Retreat and Reset
Retreat… Reset… The invitation sounded inviting, but how in the world could I make time for solitude and time away? Assisting an aging parent in a nursing home, babysitting grandchildren occasionally, painting and teaching workshops as much as my time allowed and keeping my house at least picked up so it was maneuverable kept my life as busy or more so than it has ever been. How would my husband do without my presence? The list of responsibilities just grew and grew every time the thought came about the retreat. To actually sign up to attend was a leap of faith, but my heart told me I needed it desperately. Recently, I had found myself dealing with personal issues that left me in a spiritually and emotionally barrenness. This place in my life brought so many questions and not many answers. I knew I needed the retreat. Again, the invitation came to the forefront of my mind. The last day to sign up was the next day. So, I mentioned it to my husband. “I think you should go. I wanted to mention it to you on Sunday. It would be good for you.”
So, I went. I struggled with those issues I mentioned earlier, but I found that God met me in that place with some answers that I needed. He used the speakers, the kindness of women friends, acquaintances, and the solitude to affirm His love, His plan, His goodness, and His presence in my life. The journal with Bible verses, quotes, and space to write my responses and thoughts was so helpful. I found several of the quotes and scriptures cutting to the core of my being. The time of solitude was so amazing. I didn’t put myself under any pressure to think or act in any certain way but found myself drawn to walk along the riverbank. It was cold, spitting snow, and miserable all the way around. But, I loved walking and noticing the spring overtaking the death that winter had brought. Chartreuse green mosses clung to dead wood and stretched out their spindly, fragile tendrils beyond the dead leaves and winter earth. The river was wild in its fury of water from rains, and reached beyond its boundaries. God was with me as I walked. He spoke to me of my life as I thought about the river’s force, and the dead winter giving way to spring. I found that the solitude of the moment created an opportunity for me to listen in a way I had not been accustomed. So much like that river, life rages and sometimes goes beyond the boundaries I am prepared to understand or accept. And just like the dead leaves from another season, and the fragile new life of the mosses that were springing forth in a new season I knew that God wanted me to die to some of the things in my life so that new life could spring forth. My faith felt as fragile as those mosses at that moment in time. But, I knew God’s presence. He would give me strength in the issues I faced. I might not know all the answers, but He did, so I chose to seek Him and listen.
Would I have come to this conclusion about my life if I had stayed home, going about my life and business? Maybe… But, I know one thing for sure; the retreat was a catalyst for God’s work in my life. Was everything miraculously solved and my issues resolved? No, but my spirit was renewed in a new way of provision from God that would not have been possible if I had not stopped and evaluated my life with the Lord.
When I went home, I found refreshment in my quiet times each day, a new way of relating my thoughts and Bible study to my art, and a peace that I cherished. I had to share this with my small group/ prayer group friends. I researched the quotes I found so important to me that weekend and ordered the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter Scazzero. I shared all this with my friends, and we decided to complete the 40-Day by Day companion to the book. What began as my decision to take time for a retreat, a reset, and solitude for a short two days resulted in my friends being able to participate as well in this journey of renewal and growth. We meet weekly to discuss the book and are in the process of planning our own weekend retreat so we can complete some of the activities the book suggests.
We live in a society and culture that wears busyness as a badge of honor. I have found myself on that treadmill. Honestly, it is a battle to step off and stand still. It is a day-by-day process to seek solitude and to listen to God’s voice. But, I am learning.