Lizette Warner, PhD
Time to Retreat
Updated: Jan 24
♬Attack! Retreat! ♬ from Hamilton's Stay Alive, is playing in my head.
This is the time of year when I am about to go on my yearly retreat. Some years, retreat happens during summer so I can get out of squelching heat but this year retreat is a little later than normal. This time of year makes me start thinking about strategic planning for next year and reflecting on the year to date.
Do you struggle with taking time for you?
I can say with certainly that my yearly retreat is something I look forward to every year. I've been faithfully taking a yearly retreat for years, and it's one of those things that has paid me back greatly. How? Great question!
A yearly retreat is like a vacation for my soul. Once I established this into my life, I started to look forward to it like it was a spa week. During retreat I get to sleep late. I get to have time to myself and reflect back, pause and see where God was active and working in my life, pause and reflect on what went well, where did I struggle or am I struggling, and what if anything do I want to do with all that information.
If I were to sit and examine all of the above, it can be overwhelming but over a week of reflection and coaching or spiritual direction this activity can be very life giving. The other thing that happens is I get deeper awareness than I do from any of my usual awareness giving activities and I get to choose what I want to do with that awareness.
Having opportunity for prayer and listening to God's whispering in my life is also a fun part of retreat. I discovered one year, how God chooses to speak to me and now I know what that behavior/voice/activity is like. You know how when you hear the intro to Friends and you automatically expect to see Friends, well it's similar. The other thing that happens during retreat is I dive into scripture daily or recover some prayer habits I dropped or celebrate daily mass with a renewed passion or all of these.
Be it gentle stretching, yoga or just moving my body, I love this part of retreat. I get to reconnect to all those sensations my body give me. It's like an old friend that I haven't seen in a while and who we haven't spent that quality time together. We get to check in and spend time together again.
Yep, meditation is different from prayer but sometimes it's similar and sometimes it's the same especially if that meditation is rooted in knowing, loving and serving God. I like walking or hiking meditations especially in nature. It's beautiful to see the wonder of creation and just sit and reflect upon it. Sometimes inspiration strikes me or I remember a thought, emotion, activity or a past love, something that made me who I am today, and I can be grateful in that moment.
Most of all a yearly retreat provides me time for beautiful REST and stillness. I like meditation, prayer and stillness and I recognize it's not for everyone but the thing is, you can only reflect upon your reflection in still water, not in rushing water. When you give yourself that opportunity for reflection, it's amazing what you'll discover.