My favorite 3 days of the year are just around the corner: during these three days I leave home, retreat from the world and spend time in silence, prayer and meditation. I get to sleep, rest and recuperate. As a mom of 4 under 4, it is essential that I MAKE time for a retreat every year. It requires a lot of planning (financial planning, childcare planning, etc), preparation, support from my family and even overcoming my own laziness in order to break out of the comfort of my daily routine and venture somewhere new. Yet I truly believe there is no better gift I can give my loved ones than a Mama who is filled with peace and joy, and knows her mission for the next 12 months.
Here are the reasons I make this retreat each year:
1. My relationship with God. Just as in any other relationship, you must spend time with a person to get to know and love them better. The same is true with God, and if He is to be the most important person in my life (you read that right: I prioritize my relationship with God first, BEFORE my relationships with my husband and kids) than I must make Him my priority. Just like dates with my husband are essential to our marriage, this yearly date with God is essential to my relationship with Him. A yearly retreat provides uninterrupted, focused time for me to spend with God; to talk to Him and to listen to Him. This period of time is pivotal in my spiritual life, and I always leave feeling more in love with Our Father than I ever have before.
2. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). We are all weary and burdened by daily life, and God calls us to come away and rest in Him. A retreat centered on Him is more rejuvenating than any vacation, spa or self-care could ever be. On a retreat, you are allowing the Divine Physician to heal and renew you: you are drinking from supernatural waters. God also tells us it is essential to seek this supernatural nourishment from Him–He is our manna, our daily bread–lest we grow too weary to complete our Earthly pilgrimage: “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you” (1 Kings 19:7). We must get up, step away from our daily routines, and consume the nourishment God is yearning to give us. He wants to walk with us on our Earthly pilgrimage, but can only do that if we make ourselves available and welcome Him to join us.
3. I need time and space to get my bearings, and to plan with God about how to live intentionally for the next 12 months. If you don’t take time to stop and reflect, you won’t have a clue where you’ve come from or where you’re going. A yearly retreat is the perfect opportunity to talk to God about how you’re doing, about any struggles or suffering you’ve experienced, about your joys, and about your dreams and hopes for the future. Through a few days of uninterrupted dialogue with God, you can make plans for how you want to tackle the year ahead, how you hope to live and what you hope to accomplish. A big lesson I’ve learned is that it is essential to include God in this planning for the future, because then you are not only aligning your will with His will, but you also have a supernatural ally to keep you on track. For God instructs us to live “not by [our] might or power, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6). All that is good, all love, finds its origin in God: we must empty ourselves in order for His beauty to shine though in our life and work. A retreat is the perfect place to unload our burdens, our sins and darkness, and to leave refreshed, ready to be, as St. Mother Teresa said, a pencil in the hand of God.
Scepter Publishers has an excellent (free!) ebook on how to make a good retreat–I highly recommend checking it out if you are planning to take a retreat this year.
If you need ideas about where to go on retreat, feel free to reach out to me! 😊 What has been the greatest blessing you have received from a spiritual retreat?
Peace be with you!