She'll never do it! I'd pay to be a fly on the wall, to see if she can.
People are often amazed by those who choose to go on a Silent retreat.
Why choose to be silent? What will you DO if you can't talk?
Oh - breakfast in bed? Well, yes, I'd like that.
And reading a book? Hmm - perhaps. There's a whole library in the house? With a comfy armchair? And a wood burner stove for the winter days? Now you're talking. Metaphorically speaking. Oops.
Sitting in the vintage farm-style village coffee shop, alone, journalling for a couple of hours? Yes, that would be good too.
Oh, and the little church is really old and beautiful and quiet? And you had every meal cooked for you? And an early night in a comfortable bed?
Sounds better than I imagined. But even so - what else can you DO?
Just BE, did you say? For nearly four whole days? No rushing, no places to be, no people to see, no polite conversation ... and no social media? Goodness. Did it 'work'?
It did? Why, what did you do?
Oh, you're still not talking? OK, let me read the ideas you were given for your special time.
HOW TO MAKE A RETREAT
Re:FRESH Re:NEW Re:TREAT
Sometimes we need rest – physical, emotional, spiritual time away from normal everyday busy-ness. We need to make time for meeting with God over a longer period, time for spiritual renewal and self-examination. In Jesus’ time, long walks were part of everyday life – when one could presumably reflect and pray and think. We need to build in times of quiet, times of enjoying God’s creation. At least once a year (and three or four times is better!) it helps if we go to a place of quiet and beauty and just BE.
If you have never done this before, it may be strange at first. Don’t be afraid to start with an hour for the very first time. Start small and keep adding. Don’t wait until you feel you can take on a whole day or you may never begin. And if after a while you have had enough, don’t feel guilty; either push on through to see what happens or leave it there and try again another time. Or try something entirely different! These are just suggestions which I have personally found work for me and for many others; feel free to experiment. You can try some of these ideas while you are on retreat here at Mays Farm; and you can continue with them or others once you are home.
- Retire early. Get ready for bed earlier than you do normally, with a relaxing drink (Horlicks?!?!?!?! Camomile tea …) and read the Scriptures you have planned for tomorrow; but just read them, don’t do anything else, and then put the light out.
- Awake whenever – no alarm clock! Breakfast will arrive soon after 8.30am, but you can stay in bed if you like. And don’t DO anything, for half an hour. Savour your breakfast, enjoy the peace, taste properly. Maybe later take a mug of steaming coffee and go outside to sit on a sunny chair, or under a tree. In winter, try a log fire. So now, sit and BE with God.
- Take an extended time to praise and thank God. Focus on the things you are grateful for. Look at photos and momentoes you may have brought with you and praise and thank God for what they all mean to you. Then in your journal list 10 things for which you are grateful and thank God for each of them. Put the focus on blessings, not problems. Then another 10 and thank Him; and another …. And so on. Set yourself a maximum, say 30 or 50 …. And see where you end up. No pleases, just thanks.
- Find a Psalm (Not a difficult one, but your favourite one, or a praise one) and read it out loud. Slowly. Twice. Then put the Bible down and reflect on it, maybe recall words or phrases that stood out or leaped at you, or meant something. Then write them down. Read aloud again – slowly. Maybe learn by heart one of the special verses.
- Turn to your daily Bible reading, or to a special Bible passage; or to a whole small book (eg Philemon or Jude) Spend an hour or two on this: read it aloud, slowly; relish the phrases; repeat it until the meanings truly sink in. Listen – let God speak to you through it. Mark/write/record what happens. Was does it mean? Is there a promise, a command? Something you don’t understand which you can look up another time or ask someone about later? Reflect and pray it through.
- Go for a leisurely walk and enjoy an extended time of praise. Sing praise songs aloud in the glories of creation (the psalmist recommends making a joyful NOISE to the Lord so don’t worry if you are not an opera singer!!) Then envision God looking at you with love and walking beside you with His arm on your shoulder - a friend accompanying you on the journey, in love. Sing unaccompanied or have some things on the iPod to sing to.
- Then and only then, either whilst out or on your return, pray and write down your prayers - for family, friends, loved ones; for self, spiritually, emotionally, physically, socially, intellectually; God, when you look at me, what do you see? Lord how am I doing? What do you want to change in me? Pray about your dreams, your challenges, your diary.
- Enjoy a leisurely lunch at some point (or you may want to fast for the day) and listen to some worship music – of whatever type you prefer!
- Take a nap; rest. Put your feet up. Do nothing for a while, with a cup of tea. Or you could look at a religious painting or a picture that speaks to you of God. The hammock is nice ...
- Read a wholesome but light book – maybe a Christian biography – a book which will bless, inspire, enthuse you.
After a few mornings, this may well all become much easier. But even if it doesn’t, keep pressingon. Remember Jacob – “I will not let You go unless you bless me …”
THERE IS A LOT HERE - IT MAY BE THAT JUST ONE OR TWO WILL BE SUFFICIENT FOR YOU. While you are here on retreat, maybe take one or two ideas for each morning. And experiment – maybe paint or draw; compose some music or play some if you have an instrument available (the piano in the Chapel will soon be available); take a siesta; write a poem or a prayer ….
Finally, remember to write the date in your diary for your next retreat.
* * * * *
Our retreatants this past week were on (almost) silent guided retreat, specifically spending time with God in the mornings, helping us paint and decorate in the afternoons (and there was often the sound of singing and laughter!) and then we had a devotional time of Contemplative Prayer each evening.
This next week, the retreat is a walking week - 6 to 7 miles each morning, painting and decorating each afternoon and devotional time each evening. No breakfast in bed for this energetic crowd!
* * * * *
The end is almost in sight. Latest photos show some improvements, don't you think?
Don't forget - if you'd like to come and see The Vine @ Mays Farm retreat house, there is an invitation to the Open Day and Launch for you.
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 28th 2013
OPEN DAY and LAUNCH
for THE VINE @ MAYS FARM
We would love you to come and enjoy The Vine @ Mays Farm
Come for as long as you can – call in, or stay!
Light refreshments served all day
2pm short dedication prayers in the Chapel
The Board of Trustees will all be here
Come and see what is on offer at this place of spiritual sanctuary -
retreats for you, for your leadership team, for your small group
RSVP - Thank you!