People who had arrived tired and frayed on Sunday left feeling rested and restored. Retreatants described themselves at the close of the retreat as:
And as in our other years, all retreatants would recommend this retreat to others! What a lovely affirmation that despite the changes from previous years, the retreat experience we have been developing is as nourishing as ever.
We hope to return to Mary & Joseph Retreat Center next August. I will send an email and update the website as soon as we know the dates. We hope to see you at SpiritRest 2019!
In silent retreat we give ourselves a gift, a separate, sacred space, where we can encounter and contemplate what is really going on with us, with one another, and with the earth. Silence is where we can feel our joy more deeply, take stock more accurately, and—this can be the more difficult part—become more fully aware of our woundedness and despair.
But why open to all that? Because the silence we share holds us. It opens us to be touched and to be taught really important things about life, death and rebirth. Under its spell, we can find a loving way through the difficulties and challenges we face. As we settle into silence, calmness comes. Liberation from the press of daily “shoulds” and “oughts” occurs. Balance is regained. Healing happens. We are kissed by the spirit of life and a sense of our wholeness is restored.
At our final vespers, retreatants gave testimony to such experiences. And among the final words spoken in our final worship were the words, “I’m ready.” Tomorrow we gather one last time, to bring our circle of silent community to a close. Ready or not, we will exit this alternate reality with renewed strength, more love, deeper insight and clearer intentions, better prepared to meet the challenges of life and the uncertainties of the future waiting for us.
A retreat in silence, under the gentle, wise guidance of experienced spiritual directors, and in the company of dedicated companions of the soul. I heartily recommend it. Perhaps we’ll see you next year at SpiritRest.
Post by Rev. Dr. Arvid Straube, lead spiritual director
Tuesday: going deeper
We are finishing our second full day of silence today. Our faces are more
relaxed and in spiritual direction participants report a settling in and deepening
peace. For some, there is clarity emerging about issues in their life. Or there is a
sense of safety and support for diving into the confusion.
It’s wonderful that the old and bitter theological arguments, such as atheists vs.
theists, haven’t shown up here. Participants are finding deepening and
broadening of their own practices, using the vocabulary of the holy must
relevant to them, but they are also willing to try practices from different traditions
with other vocabulary. Almost all of us have submitted prayer requests to retreat
leader Rev. Sharon Wylie and have consented to have prayers said for us. We are
engaging our own souls in a supportive community of others.
The sights and sounds around us enhance the inner exploration. The roses are
vibrantly colorful and sweetly fragrant. The lights of Los Angeles seem magical
at night from our high vantage point. It’s a metaphor for what we are doing here.
From on high, we have set ourselves apart for a while, but we look down on the
busy world of joys and sorrows to which we will soon return and pray for our
loved ones, our country and our world. And that we will return better prepared
for what the world calls from us.
Post by Rev. Lucy Bunch, spiritual director
Monday: quieting the mind
It is the afternoon of the first day of our retreat and a beautiful sunny day. We are scattered around the rooms and grounds - some of us reading , or doing jigsaw puzzles, creating art, journaling, walking, resting, sleeping. Or just being. I find it takes me at least a day before I can quiet my mind and restless spirit. One of the gifts of this time of silence and peace is just being. Just being here, just being relaxed, just being present. I was very tired when I got here, worn by the past year of doing, of striving. Just being is a refreshment for my soul. I drink in this refreshment and I am replenished.
needed and if I could give something to her through love and compassion that would soothe her. (When I stop and invite in feelings of fear or panic, I find that there is often something there that wants to be born; something that has been ignored, perhaps for too long.)
This is what silence does. It gives me the space to hear from parts of me I have been ignoring by being busy with life. I have found that I often build a wall around my deepest desires and maintain them with the shoulds and ought to’s that I often rely upon to get through the day.
When I am silent, my desires are amplified, and this helps me remember that all of me needs love and attention.
Recognizing and accepting my desires is not to be confused with giving myself anything I think I want or need. No, the deep listening that happens when my fears arise is an interactive play that I get to write as I open to the deepest longings of my being.
These longings take time and perseverance to find. They are the connection to Divine longings that I carry within me always. They are important and necessary for love to flourish in the world. That is why they need so much time, so much reflection, so much tenderness.
I am ready to meet these longings, here in the quiet places that live beneath the fear and panic. I am grateful for the time and space to meet all of me, and move inward with deep compassion for myself and all that is.
See you on the other side...