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Abbey Journal – “Retreat Anyone?”

Monday, October 10, 2011 4:00pm We could not have asked for better weather.  It doesn’t always work that way when you go away on retreat.  I remember one year going to a place in Clearwater for a retreat and it was so cold, I spent the majority of my time in my room.  The house was my least favorite unlike the one that sets facing Tampa Bay with almost every widow in the house affording some sort of view of the water.  This house offered no commanding view.  The window in my room looked at a small yard with a line of trees, nothing special.  God taught me a lot that year about always looking for Him and wanting to experience Him in the big, unique & extreme ways.  He is in the simple and the small still whisper too!

This morning I relished in my last day of waking up and knowing I did not have to get up, do anything or be anywhere.  I stayed in my pajamas for more than half the day.  I enjoyed the sunlight pouring in through another window in a different room. Journaled, read in my Bible and revisited the Hand of God – the things I am to leave here at the Abbey in God’s hands.  Sue had brought these crosses for us to paint/color in memory of our experience.  I chose mine and enjoyed designing it.

Sue had also brought some bath scrubs, lotions, bubbles and had made a make shift spa atmosphere beside one of the large bath tubs.  I was the ONLY one who had not taken advantage of this, so peer pressure and I took a soaking bubble bath smack dab in the middle of the day!

I began reading in another book, entitled “Half The Church,” while swinging on the swing.  Walked over the property some more and took a few pictures and browsed through the Abbey’s gift shop.  Came back and read more, journaled more and just sat quietly trying to be still and know that God is God.  Wondering as I do every time I go away, how to lasso this experience, this rest, this calm and sprinkle it into my everyday life.  Tonight, Joyous has something special planned for us after dinner –a special closing something.  I look forward to how the Spirit will lead.

9:00pm Joyous led us in a wonderful time of reflection of our time away from the world and challenge of next steps we take as we enter back into the world.  Packing up and bringing this time to an end is always tough.  I have really enjoyed this time away.  It has truly been a blessing.  There are no words to really express my gratitude and how much this trip has meant to me.  Thank you to all who made this trip possible.  It was an extraordinary gift.  One that will continue to give as God continues to work on me and then….I share it with you!  And one more thing – YES, I enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate with a scoop of Nutella every day and I enjoyed it a new mug from my small group.  I loved scraping the last bit of chocolaty goodness off the bottom to reveal the butterfly at the base of my cup!  Simple joys!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 7:30 am I thought the retreat was done, but it isn’t.  We don’t leave until 10 this morning.  I got up early to take a walk, but decided to read my devotion first.  From Jesus Calling, October 11, “Enjoy my good gifts, but do not cling to them.  Turn your attention to the Giver of all good things and rest in the knowledge that you are complete in Me.  The one thing you absolutely need is the one thing you can never lose:  My Presence with you.”

REALLY… I had just journaled last night about the extraordinary gift of this trip.  I was reminded that there is no need to lasso this experience and draw it into my every day.  God’s Presence is with me all the time.  Retreats are for a change of focus, to eliminate as many worldly distractions, phones, FaceBook, projects at work, and the endless “to do” list,  in order to focus on God.  But we don’t have to go away to experience the Presence of God, He is with us when we are changing diapers, doing chores around the house, facing the important meeting and in the car on the way to the grocery store.  What I need to lasso is my focus, bringing my attention to as many moments as possible to the Presence of God in that moment no matter what my location.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence for my hope is from Him.  He alone is my Rock & my Salvation, my Fortress, I shall not be shaken.  On God rests my deliverance & honor; my mighty Rock, my refuge is in God.  Trust in Him at all times, pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”  Psalm 62:5-8

Every thought about retreating?

No experience is exactly the same, when you go away to be with Jesus.  Our lives alone find us in different spots.  Getting away from the hub bub of everyday life whether for a few hours at the beach or local park, all day at a local garden or any place of quiet for the day, or for a few days at a Retreat Center or a friend’s home while they are out of town – coming away to be with Jesus never disappoints.

I hope by reading through some of what I experienced has enticed you to try and get out of your house/apartment, your normal setting and get away from the phone, computers and distractions of every day to be with Jesus for a while, however long that may be.  I hope my experience shows you its beneficial and that it’s not all meditation, scripture memorization and in depth Bible study, that it doesn’t have to be whatever high and lofty unattainable uncomfortable image you have conjured up in your mind about a personal retreat like this.

I only came away for a few days.  Jesus went away for 40 days.  He hadn’t called His disciples yet so as far as we know it was just Him, nature and God.  We also know the Bible tells us that he went away often.  I really think you can do this & I think you ought to try!

Why put it off, pull out your calendar and block off some time, an afternoon or day where you can go away soon somewhere and “be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10)

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