What Makes a Good Retreat?Nov 20, 2007
With the theme of retreat in mind, I recently reviewed a book by Thomas Green titled A Vacation with the Lord. This was one very helpful insight he shared:
“I always suggest that three guidelines for a good retreat are, as a Dominican sister-friend of mine once noted, ESP: to eat well, to sleep well, and to pray the rest of the time. This means that I make it a real vacation. I don’t just give the Lord part of my time and part of myself; rather I seek, in the classic monastic phrase, to vacare Deo, to be totally free for the Lord.” (Thomas H. Green, S.J. A Vacation With the Lord. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1986, p. 21.)
I like this ESP idea. At lunch yesterday, I shared with a group of leaders from a Sacramento area church that when I lead a retreat for pastors, I give them freedom and permission to take a nap if they are tired. I can't tell you how many times a Christian leaders has come back at the end of a time of solitude and silence, and felt guilty about falling asleep. They have images of Gethsemane and Jesus saying, "Could you not pray for just one hour?" I think a better parallel is the image of a child comfortable in her parent's lap falling asleep. Do we not realize how often we have let ourselves become sleep-deprived?
So the next time you have a retreat, remember to rest well, eat well and pray well!
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