Away on Retreat

by Christine Sine

As many of you know part of the rhythm of our lives is that Tom and I go on retreat every 3 -4 months to listen to God and refocus our lives.  We are heading off this morning to our favourite dog friendly motel in Annacortes for our Lenten retreat.  we always try to plan one of these regular retreats during Lent and another during Advent.  The others are more irregular usually based on our travels and our busyness.  

These times are wonderful.  We always come back refreshed, refocused and reenergized.  This time I am already feeling that nudge to regain my life rhythms which have been severely distorted during the last few frantic weeks as I have worked to finish my Easter Study guide (now with Judy for editing).  Busyness is not something we can avoid in our modern world and I don’t think there is anything wrong with it for a season but when it becomes a way of life that crowds out everything else then I think it is wrong.  And unfortunately many of us think that this is the way that God wants us to be.  Have you seen the bumper sticker “Jesus is coming back… look busy”?

But I don’t think that is true as I have mentioned before.  However as most Christians seem to buy into the busyness mode rather than the slow living movement I don’t think I can repeat this frequently enough.  Research shows that 80% of our effectiveness comes from 20% of our work.  What I find is that these refocusing retreats help me to distinguish what is really worth pursuing and how to say no to the rest.  

Life lived in the presence of God is primarily about listening and looking yet when we are busy there is time for neither.  It is only when I quiet my spirit and listen that I truly enter into the wonder of God’s love and experience the wonder of God’s life welling up within me.  Here is one of my favourite listening prayers.  I may have shared it before but I always think that repetition is good for the soul.  It is attributed to St Columba of Iona

Sometimes in a lowly cell, in the presence of my God 

I stand and listen.

In the silence of my heart I can hear his will

When I listen despairing people flock to me

They expect that I can see the answers

They ask my advice, they say I am wise

I answer that nothing can deceive me, if I stand alone and silently listen

For I am but a servant who is guided by his king, when I listen 

Sometimes in a lowly cell in the presence of my God I stand and listen


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