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Abbey Journal – ‘Settling In”

(Last year in October, I was blessed with a gift from the ladies of our church to go on a trip to an Abbey in Wrethem, Massachusetts.  I journaled everyday and shared the entire journal in one lump email as a thankyou to the ladies.  The response was amazing.  I share my journal with you now in hopes of giving you insight into what a personal retreat might look like.  It is my hope that this journal will inspire you to get away for a few hours, a day or more to be alone with the One who made you and you too can be renewed and refreshed.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Started the day quite early, trying to get the family ready, finishing the things I do to make me feel less guilty when I go away.  I was picked up at 10:30am and we were off to the Sarasota airport.  Smooth flying with a change of planes in Atlanta.   Arrived into the Boston/Logan airport on time at 4:53pm to a crisp 58 degrees!  Joyous and Mal gave us curb side service and transported us to the Abbey, which is about 1 hour south west of Boston.

9:30pm Tired, but a good tired.  It was dark by the time we arrived at the Abbey.  Joyous set out to give us the grand tour of the 10 bedroom, 3 story mansion converted into a retreat house.  Each room presented its own simple yet special style.  I picked possibly the smallest room, but it called my name.  Perhaps it was because…. it was down a separate hall & around a corner nestled into its own special place on the second floor, perhaps it was the desk setting in front of the window, perhaps it was the cozy warm (even though it was quite cool) feeling that came from it, but after seeing all the others – I knew it was my home for this stay.

With tour completed and rooms selected, we set down to have dinner together of steaming homemade chicken soup – totally hit the spot.  After dinner, Joyous sat us down to give us basic information about the grounds and house rules (designated community rooms for talking, all other parts of the grounds and house we were to respect the silence and solitude of each other) She then went on to share with us something God had laid on her heart.

She held out her hand and pointed to the middle of it and told us how each year she would come to the Abbey holding on to something that God would ask her to leave.  Sometimes she had picked things back up carrying them with her to the Abbey unnoticed and the Spirit would gently remind her to leave it there, again.  The lists of things that we hold on to are things that overburden us, cause static in our conversation with God or even harden our hearts.  She asked us to pray throughout our time here and seek God on whether there were things that we needed to leave, let go of and turn over to Him.  In my heart I whole heartedly agreed, but I wondered what it might be.  I come to God daily turning over to Him things, sometimes by the hour I ask Jesus, “Here, take this…and this…oops, here it is again.  Sorry, I picked it back up.”  Am I clinging to something unaware?   I suppose I will find out.

On a lighter note, you know how you do things when you are away that you don’t do at home….. Well, before we gathered for our time of encouragement with Joyous, I spied hot chocolate in the cupboard.  I say cupboard, because the kitchen was an old butcher’s pantry and the cabinets were cupboards!  I put the tea kettle on the stove and prepared my mug.  Since cupboards are like windows, in the cupboard next to the hot chocolate was a jar of Nutella, a chocolate hazelnut spread, right there in between a box of teabags and a jar of honey just like it was meant to be among the beverages.  I looked around to see if any of the other women were around and might catch me in my childish act.  Yes, I plopped a big dollop of Nutella in my hot chocolate.  So the entire time Joyous was sharing, I was sipping on thick extra rich hot chocolate!  I think I will have some every day, while I am here!

I can’t wait until morning.  I feel like it is Christmas.  Since we arrived in the dark, I am extremely anxious about exploring the house and the grounds in daylight!  But for now, it’s into my warmest pajamas, extra blankets on the bed and read a few of the cards from these amazing care packages that Joyous gave to each of us- as if the trip alone was not enough -made with love from different people who wanted to bless us. After I call Tony – of course!

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