The week was grueling. I was in residency at Divine Mercy University for a practicum as I train to be a spiritual director. I practiced various scenarios while being observed and critiqued by both my peers and the faculty experts. The scrutiny was both nerve-wracking and humbling. On top of that, there was an evaluation for the entire residency, which felt a little like final exam week.
The week was also exceptionally fruitful. Situated in the middle of the residency was a retreat. I listened to the Retreat Master offer some inspirational reflections and spent hours walking the grounds or in Adoration pondering how the Lord was using me. I left with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper connection with the Lord.
Retreats can have that rejuvenating effect. Like an army in a battle that seems to be going the wrong way, the forces in our life can weary us. On the battlefield, when things start to go sideways, the commander yells to the soldiers, “Retreat!”. The one-word command says a lot. It’s time to step back, assess the current situation, get some rest, and then reengage with renewed hope and purpose. A retreat can do the same to individuals.
Retreats can also have a powerful effect on our spiritual life. In the midst of the intense scrutiny at the residency, I took advantage of the retreat to invite the Lord into my experience. My perspective changed completely! God does something wonderful when we retreat from the daily grind and spend a day or two thinking about nothing but how the Lord is speaking to us and acting in our lives.
Please consider making your own retreat this Fall. Jesus spent much time on what might be called ‘retreat’ – some late afternoon time by himself, an early morning walk to the mountain of transfiguration, or a 40-day test in the desert. He was getting ready for the ‘battle’, but more importantly, getting to know and trust the will of the Father. There are many other options for retreats. Find one that suits you – and retreat! May the Lord be with you.