Later this morning, after breakfast with a friend and a final visit with my daughter, I will drive from Appleton (where I’ve been since Saturday in order to see my daughter in the role of Viola in Lawrence University’s production of Twelfth Night) to the Jesuit Retreat House in OshKosh. There I will be part of the team for a Directed Retreat which will begin this evening and run through the morning of June 10. After that, I will fly to New York to first see the opening of my cousin’s sculpture show, and then go do my own annual summer retreat.
As I tell those who see me for spiritual direction, the students who come to my spiritual formation programs, and anyone else who will listen, I think time away on retreat is so very important. Daily prayer matters – it matters a lot. But I don’t think a daily prayer practice takes away from the importance of taking time to “come away and rest awhile.” From having uninterrupted time with God, time to rest in God, unhurried time to get in touch with God’s delight in being with you, time to open oneself completely to the healing touch of God. And silence – and being removed from the distraction of our daily lives – makes all of that so powerful.
The truth is that there is never really a good time in our lives to do retreat. We are all busy people and we all have plenty of ways we can occupy our time. Plenty of reasons not to heed the invitation of our God to “come away and rest for awhile.” If we waited for a “good time”, we’d never go on retreat. We just need to do it.
So if you haven’t been on retreat for a while, look at your schedule. Maybe you can’t manage 10-days away. But maybe you can swing 5-days, and if not 5 days, then a weekend. Even if that weekend won’t be for several months, get it on the calendar. Give yourself that gift.
And, whether you have a retreat scheduled or not – please keep me and the retreatants who will be at OshKosh these next ten days in your prayers.