Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Simple Suggestion #245... Retreat now and then

Today I'm thinking about how wonderful it is to get away from ordinary, daily life now and then and do something completely different. to retreat from all the things that clutter the mind and soul as we go about our work and home life, and to give ourselves a wee break from the usual. It used to be that a yearly religious retreat of some sort was recommended for Catholics, and I've had my share of those. Though it was wonderful to set some time apart for my relationship with God, there were a few times that I'll confess that retreats were also a relief in that I wasn't expected to cook meals or do dishes -- I was happy just to be.

At the moment, I have three retreat possibilities on my horizon, the first of which is a trip to see my best friend at the end of this month. It's a retreat because I think she lives in the nearest place to paradise, and because we haven't seen each other for a long time and have lots to catch up on. I can't wait to sit at her kitchen table and trade stories and sing songs in two parts and go for walks and yes, cook and do dishes together, and share and laugh and renew our friendship, which is one of my life's joys.

The second retreat is this one at the end of February -- a one-day religious retreat modelled on a day at Taize, my favourite pilgrimage destination, with time for musical prayer, sharing and discussion, food, and friendship. The thing I love about Taize spirituality is that it's inclusive and "non-preachy" -- it offers scripture, poses questions and lets people discover answers together, which is always an exercise in inspiration.

And the last retreat is a March L'Arche retreat for assistants who live with persons with disabilities in L'Arche homes. I will be honoured to spend time listening to a few of these wonderful young adults encouraging them on their journeys. They inspire me with their dedication and love for their L'Arche friends and deepen my appreciation for an organization that does so much good work with the developmentally disabled.

Retreats can take many different forms. I've heard about quilting and scrapbooking retreats, winter wilderness retreats, writer's retreats, mother-daughter retreats... The idea of the retreat is just to "fall back" from the usual and do something different for a while. It doesn't necessarily have a certain duration, the point is that it's a bit of a break from the rest of what fills our lives that allows us breathing room and time to take stock of what's going on if that's what we need. Even an afternoon at a greenhouse can be a retreat if you like plants. An evening in a comfy chair, wrapped in a soft blanket with a glass of wine and a good book. Or a walk with the dog in a place I've never been before. My sisters are good at creating "instant retreats" -- over the last several months, they've called me up and taken me out to mystery locations (usually coffee shoppes) on the odd Saturday morning, just to take my mind off my troubles.

We're in the darkest days of the year, and I heard on the radio the other day that the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year (because of the darkness and Christmas credit card bills arriving!) so it might just be a good time for a retreat of some kind. A mini-retreat, even.

I've got mine to look forward to. How about you?

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