I remember one year, upon returning from my retreat, some of the parishioners told me, “Father, we think that you should go on retreat more often.” I’m not sure how they intended that remark. I can only hope that they noticed something different about me – and that after spending some time alone with God they experienced me to be a more pure and effective minister of God’s peace and love. Or maybe they just liked the beard I grew while I was away.
In any case, it’s something for all of us to think about. Often we feel guilty or selfish for taking time by ourselves in prayer. We think it too self-indulgent to leave our families or co-workers to fend for themselves while we go off on retreat. But it might just well be the case that there are others, people in your life, who very much need you to go on retreat.
There might be somebody in your life who could benefit if your heart were more at rest, if you could exude more peace and patience, if you were better in tuned with God’s Spirit. There’s no question that when my life is a mess others around me suffer or are affected as well. In the same manner, when our hearts and lives are in order we become a greater blessing and source of holy grace to those around us.
So, off I go into the great healing silence. It is a small hermitage but spiritually I carry you all with me. All the while I pray that through the gift of God I will be purified, strengthened, and transformed to be a better priest to all of you.
Sometimes I like to take spiritually meaningful or biblical food with me to incorporate into my prayer, like milk and honey, except in place of milk I substitute cheese curds. I also might find a hooded robe to wear to make me feel more like a monk. For that matter, I might also take on a new name, a monk name. So for the few days that I am at the hermitage I will be known as Dionysius the Still.
Can you tell I’ve been looking forward to this?
God waits to meet each of us in a place of silence. With expectant hearts, let us go to Him.