This month’s Selah Reflections Journal has a focus theme of “Rest & Renewal”. One way to find rest is through Personal Retreats.
My Retreat Center Dreams
I LOVE, the idea of personal retreats. It’s not uncommon for the desire to get “outta dodge” and change the view outside my window to arise after a busy day.
The idea of a retreat center has been hanging around in the back of my mind for years. I dream about buying some property, adding a few yurts or small cabins where visitors can come rest and retreat for a time. There would also be walking trails, a pond or small lake with benches around the edges, fire pits, and lots of fresh air!
My dream is to offer a simple, rustic (but comfortable!) place where a person could come for a few hours, a day, or even a weekend, and of course, it would need to be dog friendly!
There have been times when I have wished for a place to get out of my head for a day and go somewhere quiet. A place where Bailey and I can go for a long walk and then come back to a quiet space where I can write, pray, plan or just simply be. Because, sometimes a coffee shop just won’t do it and Bailey has to stay home.
Places like this are pretty much impossible to find. I have found one place that comes close, it is a monastery out in Carlton, Oregon. It has beautiful grounds, walking trails, a tiny pond with benches and chairs scattered around. The quietness you find there is peaceful and calming.
It’s yet another reminder of the facilities, opportunities and environment I would love to provide for others. The retreat center idea is a dream I’ve not given up on yet.
A Retreat Story
In my senior year of college, I was taking a class called Christian Classics. Sadly, I don’t remember what we talked about in that class, or even what books we read. What I do remember however, was an introduction to the idea of a silent retreat.
To be honest I was kind of dreading it. What would I do? Being silent is not hard for me but sitting still definitely is! Would we have to sit still and be silent? Eek! Thankfully that was not the case.
Once we arrived the instructions we received were simple. We could roam the grounds of the retreat center freely to find a place to read, write, or pray. We just were not supposed to talk until after dinner and we were dismissed.
I didn’t realize it at the time but it was a transformative experience. It’s an idea that has stayed with me all these years later.
Why We Need To Retreat
That experience showed me how impactful a personal retreat can be. That evening retreat made all of us slow down, listen, and be present in the moment. I do remember comments throughout that week from fellow students about what an amazing experience it was. And the fact that I still remember it today shows me the lasting effect it had on me personally.
- Restorative: When we feel spent, used up, burned out and drained of life, getting away can be the restorative time we need to get some balance and perspective back.
- Healing: There are times when we need to be still for an extended time in order to hear the words God has been speaking to us. It’s then we realize we have been rushing and not hearing.
- Stress Relieving: Whether it’s time with a few friends to laugh, fellowship and relax or just a few hours by ourselves to get away from the demands of every day life, time away can reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure. Always a good thing!
Why Don’t We Take Personal Retreats?
- Family: This is a one of the bigger issues. The responsibilities of kids to care for and get to school, laundry, getting dinner ready, caregiving… and more.
- Time: Our jam-packed schedules are so full that looking at our calendars leaves us overwhelmed with little to no free time.
- Guilt: We feel guilty for taking time for ourselves, of asking someone else like a spouse, a friend, or fellow caregiver to help out so we can get away for a little awhile.
The first 2, I totally get and understand. These are legitimate obstacles that have to be addressed. But, I know for a fact that it can be done. Check out Terri Miller over at MommySabbatical.com and watch her video about the science of sabbatical. I love her tagline “Take a break from the ones you love, so you can love them better.”
The last one, guilt, is a harder one. While it’s understandable it’s not a legitimate reason. It’s defeating, it becomes an unnecessary weight we carry around and becomes an excuse to not even try.
Take Time To Retreat
It’s important. It makes a difference in both your life and in the lives of those you care for. I can’t help but wonder how different our lives would be if we took regular, intentional planned retreats away from home and made it part of our self-care routines. How much difference could you make in the lives of others if you were rested and ready to be there when you are needed.
Retreats will be a topic I visit again in the future so I’d like to know what you think about retreats. Have you ever gone on one? What did you think? What would you like to learn about planning or organizing a personal retreat? Just leave a comment below or send me and email and share your thoughts and experiences!
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her buddy Bailey. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books including her newest, “Choosing Gratitude: A Daily Quiet Time Journal”.