Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Retreating pointers (2)

On my first post about my spiritual retreat, I tried to encourage folk to consider carving out precious time to get away to think and pray alone. We saw that this required actively seeking out opportunities, and choosing a good inspiring location that is basic but not uncomfortable. I tried to emphasise the way in which you prepare your soul for lift off, anticipating that in three days, two days, one day it'll just be you, your soul (to be claimed by you), and the Father, Son and Spirit. I guess it depends how you want to count, but on at least one count it's five! I then attempted to give some ideas for how to prepare practically (and also not over do it). My fifth pointer gave some insights into what the kinds of experiences might be.

There were just two more I had, but the post was already a bit long so I said I'd add those later (and nearly forgot). The sixth point, which ties into the anticipation and preparation phases, is to balance the prayer times with outward focuses. Pray for people you know, situations of suffering, people you find relationally difficult, your family, your work, God's kingdom in your town. I have a lot of work to do in this area. I can spend long periods of time in thought and reflective prayer about me and God, but those prayers bring much needed balance. Some folk I guess might need to re-align the other way as they are so altruistic that they can only think of praying for others at the expense of allowing God's Spirit to shed light on their inner difficulties, bringing wholeness and directly glorifying the Father and the Son.

Finally, I knew before I went that I needed to arrange a couple of meet-ups with people whom I could talk to openly about some of the experiences of the retreat. So much happened for me while away, that I knew I would not be able to relate much. But the idea of meeting two friends the very evening I returned and hearing their question "so how'd it go?" meant that I knew I could not simply surf some experiential wave, "er...yeah, it was very peaceful, it was deep, really good, err....". I needed to know some of the real things I could fall back on once the hum-drum of normal life kicked back in, and also continue the journey.

So: prioritise it, good location, anticipate it, prepare practically, enjoy it, strike a balance and ensure a rapid review.

I hope these pointers are helpful in planning your own retreat soon!

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