A Good Retreat is a Gift from God
Some would ask, as my mother often does, "Why would a contemplative nun have to leave her monastery for a long retreat?" Some might even ask why a lay person would choose to do such a thing when they could just take some vacation time and remain in the comfort of their home. To remain at the monastery or to stay in ones home will work but only with a healthy dose of self-discipline and focus. But the call to retreat, especially to one longer than a couple of days or a weekend, is a call to re-awaken, to renew, to dismantle the false self under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to allow our loving God to bring you back together again both in your complexity as an individual and in your relationship with God. Getting away from the familiar, the usual stimuli and distractions, the social element is necessary for the process of abandonment of self to the work God intends to do in this graced time apart.
My recent eight days of retreat with daily spiritual direction at Linwood Spiritual Center, Rhinebeck, New York was just that kind of experience. The page below, my version of an illuminated manuscript, is a reflection of my meditation during those days. In the background behind the four scripture quotes at the bottom appears my effort at reproducing the spectacular view of the Hudson River from Linwood's beautiful grounds.
The days leading up to my retreat had been filled with challenges- physical, mental, spiritual and relational. The time apart was perfect antidote as opportunity to just sit with God, to allow the Divine Son and the warmth of the sun above to heal and also opportunity to closely contemplate the wonder of God in every aspect of the environment. I thank God for that preparation for this Holy Week. As he did with the the daugther of Jairus, Jesus took me by the hand, bid me arise, and my spirit returned. Thanks be to God.