Friday, October 14, 2011

Retreat (not the white flag)

I just got back from my first ever solo retreat, as in get away from people, technology, familiar surroundings, etc.  I've done retreats with groups in the past, but never just went away by myself and i was really anxious about it. What would I find in the recesses of my brain if I took time to just listen to it? What would I do with all of that time if I wasn't on Facebook or watching t.v.? Now that I'm back I have to say that I don't know what all the worry was for. I did basically what I felt like I needed and wanted to do that wasn't involving my cell phone, computer or t.v. I read some of the books I brought with me, I went for long walks, I played with animals (I went to a farm with alpacas, chickens, goats, cats, dogs), and I prayed and meditated.  I did things that I generally want to do but rarely actually find time to do, and it felt wonderful.
prairie wildflowers and moth

I'm normally fairly extroverted, so I think part of what scared me most was not having interaction with people, and while there were moments where I thought it was too quiet and really wanted to call someone just to chat, for the most part I enjoyed being by myself.  The books that went with me were wonderful and helped me do some introspection. Walking the prayer labyrinth at the retreat center was an amzingly spiritual experience in ways I can't even articulate.  I even took some time to explore a creative outlet I've always wanted to - I took a bunch of photographs and think some of them are actualy half decent (you can comment on the two that are included in this post if you'd like). For years I've wanted to take photography classes and do something like this. Thankfully, a Deaconess sister who runs this eco-spirituality farm and retreat center is also a fairly skilled photographer and was willing to give me some pointers.  It allowed me to explore something new and it felt liberating. I go back to work tomorrow, and having only been back home for hours, I don't know if my experience away made any profound difference in me. I do know that I feel glad to have gone and I hope that it did make a difference - only time will tell.

Turtle Rock Farm, Oklahoma
The point of this post then is three-fold. (1) If you are considering doing something like this yourself but have some reservations, consider this an edorsement to DO IT. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money and can be exactly what you need to rejuvenate body, mind and soul. You don't have to have a plan, or agenda, or specific goal.  (2) I'd like for you to share information and recommendations. Where do you retreat? How often do you go? Or if you don't go, why not? Are there negative implications? I personally went to Turtle Rock Farm in Oklahoma (a little more than an hour south of Wichita, KS just off I-35) and would heartily recommend it.  I stayed in the hermitage, which is basically a small apartment, for only $50 a night.  Do you have a particular book you'd recommend to read while away? Or do you follow a certain regimen when you retreat? (3) Finally, I write this post as in invitation to those who know me to let me know if you notice any difference, for better or worse.  I'm a little curious to see how things go back at work and in my daily interactions with people over the next week or two. I feel relaxed and better equipped to handle the so called "daily grind" but I don't know how accurate that is or how long it will last. I hope it lasts a while and that I get a chance to go on retreat on a regular basis in the future.


Deepr Watr said...

When I was working on that 4-1/2 pound stack of paper I had to turn in for BOOM, I took a BOD, some Barbara Brown Taylor, and a computer, to a conference camp for a personal retreat. I stayed for free. I'm an extrovert, too, so it was a little freaky. But, so worthwhile. I remember it to this day.

mandyc said...

thanks for sharing! I didn't have any kind of goal like that (nor did I have to do all that paperwork), but it seems like having a purpose to my time there would make a difference. glad it's still memorable for you!