“Find time to come apart so that you don’t come apart.” I think I first heard that adage when I was in seminary fifteen years ago. The context is familiar…life is busy, pressures are common, we all know what is lined with good intentions. For many years I’ve intended on scheduling a couple of days at a retreat center to recover that part of my soul that was lost among the busyness in order to sleep, rest, pray, that I might be able to listen again to the voice of God. Come apart so that I don’t come apart.
Well, I confess that after the one time that a silent personal retreat was required for me (more than a dozen years ago now), I have not ever done this. Not once. Never. I live by myself, I’ve rebutted to no one but myself when the idea has come to my mind. If I want to get refilled and focus, I should probably do that with people…I am a pretty extreme extrovert, after all. Excuses, excuses, I say to myself (and anyone who stumbles across my forlorn little blog). So, finally, after the urges of my Spiritual Director (who I finally scheduled an appointment with last September and meet with monthly) and the encouragement of my boss (who has been so good to remind me that vacation/rest/etc. is important/allowed/encouraged/and just shy of mandated), I did it! I spent a whole 30 hours at a nearly desolate (but incredibly warm, hospitable and beautiful) monastery retreat center…by myself…resting, planning, recovering, and preparing for the year ahead.
Don’t get the wrong idea…they do have wifi in a few areas, which I utilized every couple of hours for a few minutes, the conditions were anything but Spartan, and I spent most of my time outside by the lake or in the Solarium (aka, library). I also enjoyed chats several time with a sassy “Sister of Mercy” named Sue. We swapped stories of Zimbabwe, work in the Church, and “big fish” stories—truly! (We both seemed to have seen a fish in the lake that no one else had ever seen…she said that maybe we had both been given a revelation. If anyone know what a Muskie means in symbology, let me know!) The rest of the time was so life-giving as I was able to get some clarity about how to go about my work this year, be healthy, and even make time for the life-giving relationships that I so desire.
Anyway, the time was so good for me to get away, rest, plan, think, fast, and pray. So, why did I wait so long to do this?