02 November 2006

return s l o w l y

These words hang on a pole along the driveway of a retreat center in Three Rivers, Michigan. A final reminder begging notice as you depart a retreat experience to reenter the regular rhythms and routines of life.

It's curious how participating in a retreat demands an information and activity detox. Somewhat like vacation, perhaps, the diversity of activity allows one to let go of some work worries and responsibilities. But even on vacation, there's a process, an excavation, if you will, to release and suspend normal cares to engage in something different and new. It's a transformation of mind, perhaps enhanced by a transformation or relocation of body.

And so, too, a retreat, an excursion somewhere else, presents an opportunity to displace and surrender the cares of work and life, to withdraw; pull back or move away. And although it takes time to deprogram as you retreat, the expectation of reentry seems somewhat merciless. Hopefully the beauty, insight, and refreshment of the retreat dwells much deeper within one's soul and spirit to anchor and protect in intersections with life's harsher realities. Perhaps it's living out "thy word i will hide in my heart that I may not [grieve] thee."

In any case, other tasks and activities clamor for attention. And so the retreat ends. May God's mercy and grace sustain us all.

pix credit: Hildred, Ocean Shores 0803

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