Sunday, February 25, 2007

pre-retreat reflections

This week I'm going to be heading to Bowen Island to the cottage of a friend to retreat for a few days. No electricity, water that needs to be boiled, propane-run everything, and a space dedicated to meditation only. My friend's family wants the place to be one that has intentional prayerfulness to it. I am very happy to be going. A friend from school is coming too, which will be nice, I like having others around to hold me accountable sometimes. It is going to be part of not only my Lenten devotional time, but also a really intentional use of the "reading break" (each of those words is a link to old blog posts with amusing reflections on the phenomenon of reading break, I think they're kind of funny) time I have these next two weeks.

On the whole, I have been enjoying life but it is always nice to take some time away, re-connect with the earth, and listen for what the Spirit is telling me. I have had really strong feelings about some specific things in the last few weeks, and I think it's time to slow down and see if it's the Spirit that is leading me to those strong feelings, or if it's just me. I have high hopes for the time, but I also am going to try and give myself the grace to let the beauty and space and silence be all that this retreat produces.

What is a 'successful' retreat anyway? I don't think I can measure it. I think that the retreat will be 'successful' just because I took it, just because I dared, in this busy, go-go-go world, to take a few days to just be. I think that is what is missing in many of our lives today, I know it's something I wish I had more of in mine - the space to just exist, to take time to listen attentively and reflect on how my words and walk are and aren't working together.

I like Lent because it gives me permission to do this even more - and yes, I do need permission and I do sometimes need a special season to help me turn my mindfulness towards God once again. I believe that contemplation is not only a gift to ourselves, but to the world, and to God. Contemplation is a key component to discernment as well. Since the fall of 2005 I've been regularly visiting with a spiritual director, mainly to address questions of discernment in my own life: who is God calling me to be? what is God calling me to do? I think the Community of Christ's focus on discernment before and at our upcoming conference is extremely important and even prophetic. I am looking forward to my retreat because it is an opportunity for discernment.

And since you all aren't coming with me, here are a few quotes for your mind to retreat with:

The process of discernment assumes that we are trying to choose a path that leads to goals consistent with the divine urge to love, and a desire for healing, growth, justice and freedom.
-Nancy Reeves

The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence.
-Thomas Merton

The way to use life is to do nothing through acting, the way to use life is to do everything through being.
-Lao-Tzu


PS - next week I will be in Montreal at the Canadian Theological Students Association conference presenting a paper, so if I don't post, it's because I haven't found my way to a computer. But fear not, as soon as I do, I will post something.

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1 Comments:

  • My favorite quote: "I think that the retreat will be 'successful' just because I took it, just because I dared, in this busy, go-go-go world, to take a few days to just be."

    Have a great retreat, Shannon!

    By Blogger Christian, at 11:16 AM  

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