On Retreat…

“After saying goodbye to them, Jesus went up onto a mountain to pray.” Mark 6:46

Throughout the New Testament we see the authors telling us that Jesus has gone up to a mountain to pray. Jesus takes time to be alone. This past week, I went to Conyers, Georgia to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit to be alone. It is a Benedictine monastery, so it is also a silent retreat. There is no talking unless of course you happen to lock your keys in your room and need to ask for help getting back in…but I wouldn’t know about anything like that of course.

Anyway, I went, and I attended Mass, and the mid-day services and Vespers, and Compline…I have to confess that I did not go to the Vigil mass at 4am. I am just not that good. During the times I was not in a service, I walked the wooded area that surrounded the monastery, I did some free writing, and I read…a lot. It was so peaceful. It was also quite nice not to talk or have anyone really talk to you. And when someone needed to say anything, it was typically in whispers. Even meals were silent. It was a much-needed break from life.

What I began to realize after my first full day at the monastery was that I was a lot more stressed and wound up than I realized. I have a lot going on in my life. Some good, some just what it is, and some not so great. And some things that have gone on for far too long and need a resolution. So…I took a break. Or if you prefer, I ran away for a spell so I could get some much-needed perspective. I think I could have stayed another week.  Have I mentioned just how wonderful this past week was?

The thing I began to understand is that all of us need time away from the hustle and bustle of life. Jesus gave fully of himself to everyone who crossed his path, but even Jesus took breaks. Time to be with the Father to pray and get refreshed. I have come home, feeling less stressed, and definitely refreshed. I have discerned what I need to stop doing, where I need to ask for help, and those things that I need to continue. But I also need to remember that this is a work in progress. I will need to continue to take time away as I reach each step along my journey. This will be especially important this fall as I begin a new chapter. I will be attending, via online classes, Loyola University with the goal of becoming a Spiritual Director. It is a two-year certification. Wish me luck…I will need it.

I hope, as I have shared my own struggles, that you will consider time away from the busyness of your own lives. And please know that I am not talking about vacation, but time to just be. Time where no one is asking anything from you and there is nothing you need to do except what you chose. Time to reflect and enjoy the life you have been given. It is a wonderful gift to give yourself.


Pastor Beth

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