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Kind to Myself at a Silent Retreat

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, September 20, 2014

Be still, and know that I am God Ps 46-1

Kind to Myself at a Silent Retreat

I spent today in silence. At least, most of the day. In silence, reflection, prayer, and meditation.

At first, when I thought about participating in this retreat, I couldn’t justify spending a whole Saturday away. A whole Saturday when I intentionally separated myself from the busy, day-to-day, hustle and bustle. But the more I thought about it, the more I considered it to be something I needed to do. For myself, and for my spiritual health.

So, yes. I was kind to myself today. As the title of the day of prayer said, this was a Soul Care Day. A day to be gentle with the soul, and to reflect on scripture. The two reflections of the day touched me deeply. (Both on the Good Shepherd; the morning reflection on Psalm 23, and the afternoon reflection on John 10.) It was deeply moving to have a connection with God in such an intimate way. Another powerful thing that moved me as well was the additional material each participant received.

I found I appreciated the prompts that helped me join this silent retreat fully. Concerns (about myself, others close to me, my work), weariness (of body, mind or spirit), distractions (that occupy or nag at my mind or heart) and fears (“what ifs,” outcomes, expectations). I was encouraged to bring any or all of these things to conscious awareness, as they came to mind, and set them aside. So I might fully enter into the retreat.

A third thing that touched me deeply was a private prayer time I had with the retreat leaders. This was a kind and giving act they offered. A precious gift, and I welcomed it. Three people prayed with me. One I have only known and seen several times. The other two I have known for a long time. One woman has a number of children, with two the exact ages of my two youngest. She and I were in a mom’s bible study together for years, before I even went to seminary. (And the third? My spiritual director, and an amazing woman of faith.)

It was restful and helpful for me to step away. Step out of a leadership position at the church where I work, and rest in the hands of God. Walk with the Good Shepherd for a short time, and rest in the green pastures of God’s grace and love. Thank You, God, for this wonderful opportunity to rest in You.

@chaplaineliza

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4 thoughts on “Kind to Myself at a Silent Retreat

  1. I found you through your comment on April Yamasaki’s blog. I am about to lead a spiritual retreat for Mennonite Women in Michigan on the theme of Recovering Simplicity.

    So I am keenly alert right now to positive experiences of retreat and the needs of other women. Here’s the outline under the title Recovering Simplicity:
    Friday night: Reconnecting with God and Our Little Girl Selves
    Saturday A: Returning to Nature
    Saturday B: Remembering the Word
    Sunday: Re-imagining Our Futures
    As women grow into adulthood, we too often grow away from our “young girl” experiences of God — our trust in God’s presence and our own passionate desires. Coming to peace with ourselves as women means locating the shape of our souls — the shape God designed in us. We will explore what it means to live deliberately as adults connected to the exuberant sense of awe and expectation that lies within. During this retreat, we will remember the Word hidden away in our hearts. We will let nature speak its Word to us. We will reflect on the lessons of simplicity God wants us to learn today as we carry forward the work of our mothers and grandmothers.

    Have any advice to share as you read this? The house will be packed, and I want to create an environment in which the Holy Spirit moves.

    • Thank you for reaching out, Shirley! Your retreat sounds marvelous. Talk about Soul Care!

      First, your basic schedule sounds wonderful. So many women with so much STUFF filling up their lives. Yes, necessary, and yes, some of it important. But–I really appreciate the way my Spiritual Director started the Soul Care Day–with _arriving_. The retreatants came to the retreat in a large, historic church in the middle of the busy, downtown Chicago suburb. Talk about stepping out of the hustle-bustle and rat race! In the sheets Jay passed out was one, in particular, that mentioned setting aside all of the clutter and anxiety and fears and jumbled-up emotions and negativity. All of us carry these _weights_ with us, each day. And, this was so important! If I had not been able to do this, I wouldn’t have received so much from this day. Thank God, I was able to set these aside and focus on the topic of the day. The Good Shepherd.

      I do have more to share, but it sounds like you have a great retreat schedule set up already. I believe the addition of being conscious of _arriving_ at the retreat fully, not only physically but also mentally/psychologically/spiritually, is vitally important. And I suspect it will be important for your retreatants, as well. I’ll email you! God’s richest blessings to you as you lead this retreat.

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