Sunday, March 18, 2012

My mostly, almost...okay, kind of silent retreat

I've spent days trying to write this blog post. That is unusual for me, as my posts tend to be written in one sitting, and posted on the same day. But it has been a very busy week, with my nephews coming to visit and helping my daughter plan an 18th birthday party for her best friend. In hindsight, given the activity of the past week, the subject of this post seems all the more relevant.

Last week I met with some great people from my church, and we made plans to start a Bible study. While we were there, one fellow was talking about having gone on a silent retreat. I was intrigued. Of course, I have heard about silent retreats. My best friend was given one as a gift from her children and she loved it. The thing that intrigued me, though, was a thought that I had while he was talking. I wondered about the possiblility of doing a silent retreat at home.

Usually retreats are done at retreat centres, places that provide a room, meals, a chapel, beautiful, meditative grounds and other retreatish sorts of things. Still, if the point is to get away from the world and spend quiet, alone time with God, in quantity and well as quality, I should be able to do it at home. To be honest, my finances dictated that if I was going to do it all, it had to be at home.

I think the idea of a retreat appealed to me because I have been feeling a little unsettled lately, a bit scattered and disconnected. I've been having periods of nameless anxiety. My nerves have felt frayed, but with no clear reason. There are some things happening in my life that concern my future, and there is uncertainty about it all. Some of it is exciting, promising new paths and challenges for both Grace and I. Some of it may be painful. Most of it will be difficult.

I needed some time to focus and connect more closely with the One who holds our future in His hands. I've never tried to do any sort of retreat on my own before, but this felt like something I needed to do. I knew that if I needed it, then God would make it possible.

So He did. Friday night I announced to Grace and Madison that I would be spending Saturday in a silent retreat. I would spend the day in my room. I love my bedroom. It is a calm, peaceful, comfortable place. Every time I go in there, even just to drop off laundry, I think about how much I like being in it. It would be a perfect place to nestle into for a day of intimate time with God.

I told the girls that I would be trying not to talk for the day. Of course, I would be available if I was needed, but I was aiming for silence. Yeah. I don't think they thought I could do it, either. I put Grace in charge of answering the phone and door should the need arise, and prayed that the day would be an uneventful one.

It just makes sense that the first thing I discovered when I tried to be silent is how un-silent I am. I was communicating verbally before I even opened my eyes on Saturday morning. Jean-Luc came into my room early, as is his habit, and trilled at me. And I trilled back. This happens every day, as Jean-Luc starts the "getting Kelly out of bed" process at about 5:00am and continues until he succeeds. It usually takes a few hours. If I don't answer him, he stands on the pillow beside mine and pats me on the face until I do. It was at this point that I determined that a "silent" was aiming too high, and that I would try for a mostly silent retreat.

I spent the day cocooned in my room. I had chosen a book by Max Lucado, When God Whispers your Name. I had my Bible, an Oswald Chambers devotional called My Utmost for His Highest, a notebook and pen. I told God that I just wanted to be alone with Him. I told Him some things that were concerning me, and asked Him a few questions. He showed me some things about myself that I needed to know. He also showed me some things about Him that He needed me to know.

I did come out of my room occasionally, for bathroom breaks, food and tea. At noon I went downstairs and made soup for lunch, which Grace and I ate together. I couldn't just not talk to her while we were together, but I did try to talk as little as possible. I realized, as she talked to me, how often I jump into our conversations with advice, ideas and comments about what she is saying. It took a lot of effort to simply listen.

By early evening I was feeling that it was time to come out of hiding. I felt relaxed, connected to the Source and ready for the upcoming week.

Often, because of my health, busy weeks are hard weeks. I can't say that I sailed through physically, as my IC flared on Monday. It had settled down by the time the boys arrived on Wednesday, but the busyness still affected my bladder by the end of each active day. I don't think the retreat was a physical thing. It was to rebuild my mental and emotional strength by building up my spiritual connection to God. For me, the only way to transcend the physical struggle is to be empowered by God to greater levels of devotion to Him, and love for others. By myself, I would have been a bear. Not a silent one, either.

I would absolutely do it again. In fact, having done it just once has made the time I spend with God every day even more personal and...retreatish. Still working on being a better listener, though...

3 comments:

safaricreations said...

Hey Kelly,
An at home retreat is such I good idea though mine would be different.
I would have like an at home spa/ relaxing day with nothing like interenet or a cell or TV.
I would have tea a book maybe do yoga. Do a self pedi/manicure and maybe a face mask.
Thanks for the inspiration. Even though I won'y be able to not talk, that is physically inpossible for me. :)
xo
~Amber

20andjuststarting said...

Hey Kelly,
An at home retreat is such I good idea though mine would be different.
I would have like an at home spa/ relaxing day with nothing like interenet or a cell or TV.
I would have tea a book maybe do yoga. Do a self pedi/manicure and maybe a face mask.
Thanks for the inspiration. Even though I won'y be able to not talk, that is physically inpossible for me. :)
xo
~Amber

Kelly said...

That's a great idea, too, Amber. Just disconnecting from social media & the cell makes for a lot of relaxation. I found it impossible not to talk, too. I even talk to myself. I don't know how many times I told Jean-Luc, "I'm not supposed to be talking to you, you know." *sigh* :D

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