Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What Were You Doing Up There? (Retreat Part 4)

Some retreat clarification, in response to various questions people have asked me:

Yes, you talk to your director! Each day your director suggests a passage of Scripture for you to reflect on, and then the next day you talk it over with her or him. A few sentences can lead you on countless winding paths and even, sometimes, to a genuine inner stillness and alertness to the Spirit of God.

No, you don't have to do another single thing. One of my friends asked about the work of preparing meals together -- nope. The delicious meals were prepared and beautifully presented by the kitchen staff -- which also works in silence, so as not to disturb the retreatants in the dining room.

I thought longingly of my computer and its internet access maybe three times in eight days.

I found the silence easy and the eight days short. I'm sure one's mileage varies, and I wouldn't predict even my own future experience based upon this recent one. But I have a pretty well-established practice of lengthy daily silence for listening for God, which itself has an effect on the prayer going on inside my head or through my activities even when I am chattering away or otherwise engaged during the rest of the day. So, this time at least, the silence went well for me.

I'll try to write a little about spiritual direction tomorrow. It's been such a significant part of my life for the past two years that I tend to forget how weird the entire concept sounds. But yes, I am aware that when you use words like "spirituality" or "direction" in most of the contexts I inhabit, people start thinking New Age or Eastern tradition or medieval or rigidity of discipline.

For now let's just leave it at this: you will never have to worry about mistaking me for Mother Teresa.

Enjoy the sunrise!


mompriest said...

I had a wonderful Spiritual Director for about 7 years, then she retired and moved to Arizona. I've not found another since, and it's been about 3 years since she left. I value the time we worked together and feel like it has sustained me all these years later.

But eventually the well begins to go dry. I think it's time for me to find another guide, and maybe take a retreat. Despite a good two week vacation I am feeling "Spiritually" depleted.

All this is to say, in agreement with you, the value of having someone who helps guide ones spiritual life, who assists in forming faith nourished by scripture and the wisdom of the ancient church.

I'm grateful you had this retreat time and can share it with us.

Diane said...

thank you. I don't know much about spiritual direction or silent retreats. I wonder how I'd do? I'm looking forward to more.

Lisa :-] said...

I can't imagine myself doing long bouts of silence. Though I am, as a rule, comfortable keeping my own counsel, I tend to...talk to myself. Out loud. Don't suppose that would play too well at a silent retreat. :D

Michelle said...

As a veteran of 8-day retreats, I'm glad you discovered them. For me at least, the silence is like a pool in which I can see things reflected that I might not otherwise. It's also a still spot in a life that is REALLY not still. In the last year I've been trying to go up for a night at the retreat house where my current director is when I have my monthly meeting with him. It feels like dipping into the well, to store up for the chaos of the everyday!

Kathryn said...

Thank you for explaining some of the details.

I need to spend some time going deeper this fall. I've been invited to join a group doing centering and contemplative prayer. I'm grateful to have the woman with whom I will be doing this in my life.