Yesterday I took myself on a date. Partly because I needed some time and space to prepare my talk for church on Sunday, and partly because I’d promised myself I would do it before my 40th birthday (see 40 days ‘til 40), I went on a personal retreat. Villa Maria is a beautiful Catholic retreat centre in lush green park-like surroundings along the Red River. For a small donation, they give you a room with a bed, a desk, a sink, and a big window with an amazing view of trees, grass, and lots of dandelions. And they feed you lunch and let you sip tea in their dining room.
I’ve done this before, and each time I do I think “man, that was so good, I really need to do this on an annual basis”, and then I get busy again, and suddenly realize it’s been a few years since the last time.
What do I do on a personal retreat? Well, for starters, I sit. And then I sit some more. I meditate. I wander around the grounds. I sit in the grass and write in my journal. I listen to frogs. I watch the grass wave in the breeze. I meander past the stations of the cross. I let the sun shine on my face. I read my Bible. I read a few chapters of a good book. I visit the chapel and sit some more. I do some centering prayer. I contemplate. I write poetry. I eat lunch alone and stare out the window at dandelions. I drink tea in the afternoon and talk to one of the friendly nuns. I think. I rest. I let time tick by. I write in my journal again. I entertain creative thoughts. I get refreshed.
Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? If you haven’t done one before, I highly recommend it. If you’ve done one before but haven’t found the time lately, sit down with your calendar, block out a day, and git yo’ ass to a retreat centre.
That perfect tranquillity of life, which is nowhere to be found but in retreat, a faithful friend and a good library. - Aphra Behn