“How are you feeding yourself spiritually these days?” So far we have talked about different methods for digging into God’s Word and about the benefits of creating sacred space in our calendars for silence and solitude. Yesterday I shared some of the ways I have done this on a daily basis and today I’ll write about creating space in our calendars for longer times of this on a monthly and quarterly basis. And just in case you are wondering why I am not including a weekly basis here as well it is because I will be sharing about that in a different post focusing on all of the aspects of Sabbath keeping, So for now let’s start with monthly.
Once a month I like to get away to a specific place, anywhere from a few hours to a good portion of the day, for a mini-spiritual retreat. It could be somewhere close by or a couple hours drive but the main thing is that I go somewhere that I can be alone, for the most part, and spend a significant amount of time away from my devices and other distractions.
In the past I have…
- hung out at a friend’s place while they were at work
- hijacked a room at a church or some other organization
- sequestered myself in the Conference Room of a local Bed & Breakfast
- walked around Holley Falls
- Sat under a tree at a park
- spent time at a campground
- gone to a Christian retreat center
There are more that I could list but that gives you a sense of some of the places that I have chosen to go to. As you can see, there are some similarities and the first and foremost one is that they are all FREE!!! Taking money out of the equation also helps take away the excuses we make about getting away.
And while I am spending time at these places I typically bring a few things…
- my phone (on airplane mode) so that I have access to my camera as I love to take pictures while I am out on a prayer walk – especially at a place like Holley Falls.
- My Bible and a Retreat Book that gives me a devotion to read and then asks questions or offers prayer suggestions to help guide my time
- A notebook and pen for the dual purpose of writing down anything The Lord is saying to me as well as jotting down the multitude of things that I need to do and that always come to my mind during these times. The main reason I do this is because if I can write them down then I don’t need to keep trying to remember them throughout.
That’s it. Pretty simple. Basically I spend time in listening prayer mode but also have on hand tools to help me stay focused when other voices, including my own, start to get too loud to hear The Voice of The One Who I truly want and need to hear from. So that is what I do for my monthly retreats and my quarterly ones are similar though longer and with a few more elements.
I have done these 3-5 day retreats in different places but by far the one that I go to the most and and have gotten the most from over the past decade is The Abby of the Genesee. This is a small Trappist Monastery in Western New York where I truly experienced Silence & Solitude for an extended period of time and it remains a sacred place that I hold dear to my heart. And it’s also here they literally make Monk’s Bread!!!
Beyond the fact that I bring a few more books into the mix, my focus is pretty much the same as my monthly retreats except that: (1) there is a minimal fee for room & lodging and (2) since the majority of the time there is spent in silence I do participate also in some of the speaking events hen they are offered which include: observation of The Daily Office (corporate worship at different times through the day and night which including chanting,singing, and sometimes a short homily), seminars which are given twice a week for roughly an hour on a certain topic or segment of Scripture, and one on one Spiritual Direction with a monk. For me this is most beneficial because it helps me to process out loud with someone what God has been speaking to me in my silence up to that point.
So there you have it. If anyone wants more details about specific books I might recommend, places to go, or other things that I use to aid my effort to sustain the practice of silence and solitude, in spite of my ADHD and extrovert tendencies, I would be happy help. Also, I only mentioned a few practices and methods to that I feed myself spiritually in these posts but would love to hear what other things you are doing as well.