It’s 2015 and I’m feeling optimistic. It’s like there’s something stirring under the surface that’s going to reshape the way we see things. Engaging with that subtle presence beneath it all is what my faith is all about.
Over 5 years ago now, I embarked on a two day retreat that would ultimately redirect the trajectory of my life. Sounds a bit overdramatic doesn’t it? But I swear that it is the truth.
It was a two night, three day personal retreat at San Damiano. I had a room with a bed, desk, and bathroom. There was no computer, iPhone, iPod, guitar, radio, and not even a clock. Books, a journal, hiking boots, and silence were the only things I had with me to help fill the time. I think one of the the things that stood out to me the most was the shock this brought to my consciousness.
I slept when I was tired and got up when I was awake. Without any electronics, my day had little going for it once the sun had gone down and so would go to sleep early and wake up early. How natural and “right” this felt to my body has never left my memory. It’s how I hope to live someday. Come to think of it, it’s exactly how our son Ellis lives now as a three month old. Hmmmm...
This retreat (and every retreat since) was all about being present. I saw how the crowded nature of my thinking leaves little room for being present to myself and others, let alone Christ in all and through all. Being alone in this kind of setting is one of the most spiritually intimate experiences I ever had. I feel like I can understand St Augustine’s words when he wrote:
There are many going afar to marvel at the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the long courses of great rivers, the vastness of the ocean, the movements of the stars, yet they leave themselves unnoticed!
Having these moments of reprieve and refocus make my heart so much stronger! And I don’t think it’s just a rare characteristic of mine:
Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
– Luke 5:16
If this is true about the one we call “Lord”, why is it so rarely seen in the Christian community? Let’s not waste too much time answering that question when we could just start being the answer. I want to help be a part of this change too. In a few weeks I’ll be guiding a retreat at Camp Koinonia near Santa Cruz with our church in Santa Clara. I am inviting you.
Interrupt your daily life with me and make room for presence. “Be still and know.” Take a bold step toward making a possibly uncomfortable but indispensable spiritual plunge into greater depths. If you’re interested, email me as soon as you can at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re headed there January 23-25.
When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
– Matthew 6:6