The retreat center was out in the boonies, as somebody said, where we had no cell phone reception. The rustic buildings were set on a vast, wooded property.The retreat planners set up a room where people could sit to visit or relax. Aromatherapy candles and vases of flowers were placed on side tables and hot water was available for tea (check out the name of that tea: “Herbal Unwind”). People really used that space. Some chatted; others knitted. My room was just two doors down, and as I passed by, I often saw women sitting alone enjoying some quiet moments in prayer.The planners also provided chocolate. Lots of chocolate. I forgot to take a picture of that. I suppose I was too busy scooping up handfuls of M&Ms to snap a shot.On Saturday afternoon, I embarked on a long hike with two ladies, and we found a really big leaf….That’s not my hand, in case you’re wondering. I was snapping the picture.Then we lowered ourselves down a steep bank using a nylon rope attached for that purpose–we are so tough–and came to the edge of a beautiful lake.Interestingly, we’d actually talked briefly that morning of Psalm 23.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
I wasn’t expecting to experience that so literally.I’d love to share pictures of some of the ladies I got to know, but I forgot to ask their permission.Two nights was perfect. We were all so relaxed. One woman said that she did a lot of sighing over the weekend. She wasn’t bored; she was letting all of her stress melt away.Sighing…relaxing…releasing.She let the Shepherd lead her and restore her soul.Well, we all did. We asked Him to speak, for His servants are listening.
The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)
And then we listened for the voice of our Shepherd.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27)
After sharing a powerful time of worship and prayer, after relaxing with games, after partaking of several delicious meals that none of us had to prepare, we’re now in re-entry mode; down from the mountaintop, back to our everyday lives and challenges.And that is, I suppose, what retreats are for–to replenish us, give us perspective, help us pull away to a quiet, solitary place in order to connect deeply with the Lord so that we are reminded how vital it is to connect deeply with Him every day.My weekend retreat is over, but heading into Holy Week almost extends it.Still, I must do the laundry.