I’ve been spending some of my home time going through stacks of papers to play the perpetual game of sort and toss and came across a bunch of notes and flyers about various church retreats of the past few seasons. In sorting through them I was slowed by their contents. Sensibility and good advice poured from the pages, as if asking me to preserve the content even if I chose to recycle the paper. Before long I became convinced that a retreat would be a fine use of time during this “great pause” the world is in these days. So, I set out to design my personal retreat practice for a few days.
Step one: Limiting my screen time to let things settle down. Hallelujah. Once I did that I started looking for the bullet points of my retreat brochure—a short list of directives I could follow to simplify my thoughts and actions for a while and let all the noise fall away, at least until I have to mow the back yard.
Step two: Three directives—something fairly linear to imitate the “narrow path” suggested by Jesus. I came up with “Pray it, say it, play it.” After all, if this is going to be a worthy retreat, it has to have catchy phrases to headline the invitation.
Step three: Source material. I scrounged through the bookshelves and picked some reading material to feed my retreat—NIV and Message to compare scripture, then a Rumi for sweet poetry and Neil Douglas Klotz’s “The Genesis Meditations” to broaden my awareness beyond the Christian perspective. After all, the whole world is caught in this mess.
Step four: Live in the retreat. Now I’m beginning each part of my day with “Pray it, say it, play it.” Stilling the mind to enter a meaningful state of prayer is still the hardest for me, and I think that means it’s the most important. When I feel like God walks out of the mist and comforts me with grace and peace, words come that lead me to a better day, a better way. And playing out the Godly hints of wisdom gives me a direction, if only for the moment, that has more joy in it, even going back to sorting through those stacks of papers.
The French call it divertissement, and this is mine. Something to do while waiting for the storm to settle. I know I’m not alone in this kind of adventuring. How ‘bout you? What does your personal retreat brochure have on the cover? Let’s compare notes when we get back together.