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"Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while."

Mark 6:31

This is the invitation Jesus extends to each of us every day.  Yet our schedules are so packed and activities so frenetic, for many of us this is the last thing on our minds.  The call to meet God in daily prayer is that place of rest where we can just let go and be still.  I start my day this way so I am tuned in from the very beginning to what God is saying, taking advantage of that peaceful time before I turn on my phone, look at my calendar, and get bombarded by all the demands of the day. 

I also like to take an extended time away to rest each year on a 5-day individual directed retreat.  This is such a beautiful time of silence, being totally present to the Lord.  It is amazing what you can hear when you stop talking, planning, and getting things done.  When I don’t worry about words or interacting with others, I am able to be present to the beauty around me in nature, music, and all that I encounter. 

Everyone’s retreat experience is as different as they are, since each of us experiences God in our own unique way.  But the key to a good retreat is first of all planning one.  Without scheduling it on your calendar ahead of time, it will never happen. 

The next important component of a good retreat is to make yourself available to God.  For me that means unplugging – no texts, emails, or social media.  I really struggled with that this year, helping me realize how much hold my phone has on me and how connected I am to it all the time.  Once I disconnected, it was a real treat to let the outside world take care of itself for a while.  So freeing!  Other ways I make myself more available to God on retreat is by praying with Scripture, journaling my thoughts, trying to be present to each moment, and sitting in the quiet.   I don’t get much of a chance to do nothing in my very busy life, so this is a great gift. 

Sharing my thoughts and experiences of the Lord each day with my spiritual director while on retreat helps me to delve deeper into my experience of God.  It seems she always has just the right question I need to ponder or suggests a Scripture that takes me deeper.  Besides breaking the silence a bit, it is wonderful to have a caring companion on the journey., even if just for an hour a day. 

In my many years of taking an annual retreat I have found that if I do the hard work of planning it, getting there, and unplugging, my job is over. God takes care of the rest and is always faithfully present, guiding me to whatever insights I need for that time of my life.

However you decide is best for you, I encourage you to answer God’s call to come away for a while and rest. 

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