Friday, March 20, 2009

Retreat Run-Down

I think I've participated in four kinds of retreats:

1 ~ Working retreats. I've been on nonprofit board retreats and I've been on Session retreats (Session being, in Presbyspeak, the governing body of the local church)~ and the goals have been mixed. The former mostly involve presentations and small group work, often focused on a single set of topics or issues. Our session retreats include some of the same, but since the elders of the local church are meant to serve as its spiritual leaders, the retreats also include educational presentations on matters related to church governance and opportunites for spiritual growth -- time for Bible discussion and lectio and silent prayer and journaling. I've been on nonprofit retreats in classrooms and offices and board rooms and somewhat more bucolic settings; our Session retreats are held at a local retreat center, a beauitfully maintained former convent surrounded by acres of woods.

2 ~ Get-away-and-bond retreats? I guess that's how I'd describe the women's retreats I've been on. Presentations, art time, conversations -- lots of conversation. I'm going off to the aforementioned retreat center with the women of my church for one of these next week-end.

3 ~ Silent retreats. Time away to spend in silence with God. I was on such a retreat when my son died last September; I had gone on an 8-day retreat the summer before: no conversation at all, except for an hour a day with a spiritual director. No conversation at meals, at the pool, before or after mass ~ no conversation at all. My favorite kind of retreat. I'm signed up for eight days for next summer, albeit with some trepidation.

4 ~ Preached retreats: A combination of presentations and silence. That's what I'm doing this week-end, in the context of a women's retreat at another local retreat center. I just received the schedule; there are several presentations and a discussion group scheduled across the week-end, but the rest of the time, including during meals, silence is the expectation. I had been thinking that I had never done this before and that it was just my luck that, for my first time ever, I would be one of the presenters ~ but then I remembered that I had been on a similar week-end retreat with my church several years ago. We had invited two presenters from the
Church of the Saviour in Washington D.C. to talk about their concept and practice of inward and outward journeys, and we spent the nondiscussion times in silence. So maybe I do have some sense of what it will be like.
Since the Lovely Daughter is home this week-end, I'm going back and forth each day to the retreat center. I'm glad that it's basically a silent retreat, since I won't be missing conversation time by going home.

I'm surprised, looking back at this entry, to discover how many different definitions of the word "retreat" I've experienced. My conclusion? I'd choose the week of silence over the rest anytime.


Michelle said...

I vote for the silence -- and with some trepidation have just agreed to be a presenter at a preached retreat (only the second time I have ever done this, and never with as much responsibility - ack!) in August.

May it all go well this weekend - with daughter and with the retreat!

Stratoz said...

hope all goes well with your daughter. I need silence. I have craft fairs. Sunday, I go with my shoulder into the garden and prepare to be observed by a new administrator at work.

Jim said...

I'm with you on the silent ones. My old church had yearly men's retreats where the only thing "spiritual" was an evening service, the entire days being no more than boating, fishing, tubing, male-bonding. Made me wonder if they were simply "retreating" from their wife or actually looking for a renewed connection with Him. To each their own. I stopped going after the first or second one....