Retreat: A Place of Privacy or Safety

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

When can I go and meet with God?
(Psalm 42:2 NIV)

“Possibly the barrier is not time at all. What we are up against is not really the pressure of events, not the many demands on our time, but a stubbornness within ourselves, a hard-heartednenss that will not yield to transformation and change.” (Emilie Griffin, Wilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat)

The squeal and swoosh of the school bus brakes have returned to the neighborhood. Just when I was getting into a summer routine, the bell is ringing for classes to start. I am ready to finish my final semester at UM-St. Louis. I am one of those non-traditional students, who late in life decided she wanted her college education after all. As I gather notebooks and textbooks into my backpack, I begin to lament that my unhurried times in the gazebo gazing off into the cosmos of God’s heart will soon be over.

Instead my time will be filled with huge amounts of reading and writing papers, and collaborating with other students on projects to fulfill our requirements. How will I meet with God in the midst of this chaotic pace? It occurs to me that I will have to plan “retreats” during the week. This will take discipline because some days I will be overwhelmed and others just apathetic about anything. These feelings occur on a regular basis, so I want to plan in advance a strategy to ward off complacency.

Thankfully most of my classes start around 11am this semester, giving me more time to linger in the refuge of mornings on the porch or snatched moments of contemplation in the gazebo. This all sound a bit romantic, but sometimes I need to couch my life in these terms to find the adventure and joy of it all.

I like the concept of a retreat because it is an intentional way to escape the pressures of life. Usually when I think of retreat it is a time and place set apart with a group of people to reflect on God and learn more about how He wants me to live out this life. Since I don’t really have time for one of those right now, I want to incorporate the idea of retreat into my regular schedule.

In reading Emilie Griffin’s, Wilderness Time, a book about spiritual retreats, my interest increased in designing personal retreats in the midst of every day, ordinary life. I don’t know where this interest will lead me, but I hope to see some fruit in my personal life, and hopefully extend an invitation in the future for others to design their own personal retreats.

In the meantime, may I encourage you to spend some time thinking about and asking yourself, “When can I meet with God?” And maybe even contemplate why this is a good idea?

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