| "What a joy it should be to feel in your inmost heart that little tug of what has been called a gentle stirring of love. This is God's call, God's offering of self, and God's response to your loving search. Indeed, your loving search would not have even begun without his gentle call."
William A. Meninger, The Loving Search for God
The Benefits of Spiritual Retreats
The fact you have found FindtheDivine's web site is perhaps a part of your own response to a 'gentle call'. Spiritual retreat centers are places for you to start or continue your search for the Divine, which for you may be called Spirit, God, a Higher Power, Creator or perhaps "it" is yet unnamed. No matter:
Of 'spiritual retreat', Sister Louise Dowgiallo, OSB, of the Benedictine Pastoral Center in Virginia, says: "A spiritual retreat is where the seekers are seeking God. It is where God is seeking the seekers. It is the meeting place."
Choosing the journey toward a spiritually inspired life begins with a willingness to 'heed the call'. FindtheDivine exists to show you a variety of meeting places and teachers when "the student is ready". To say that the journey is the reward is a beginning. Standing at the threshold of spiritual seeking, we may seek encouraging words of guidance, a glimpse of 'how it works'.
Why does one make a spiritual retreat?
Webster's defines "retreat" as "a period of retirement or seclusion, especially one devoted to religious contemplation away from the pressures of ordinary life". "Spiritual" references "the higher intellectual or endowments of the mind, intellect, consciousness or the moral feelings or states of the soul".
Making a 'spiritual retreat' then is choosing a place of quietude, perhaps with a teacher or spiritual guide, to rediscover the divinity that exists at the center of our lives. In his book A Place for God, author, Timothy K. Jones suggests a retreat so we may "recollect a scattered life and focus on the one who calls and seeks and invites us to communion."
Why do we enter into Silence?
Silence renews us and provides a perspective that subtlety changes our relationship with the life we know. Timothy Jones, author of numerous spiritual books states that "the solitude of a retreat will provide an interval of stillness and gentle concentration, a pause in the constant and unremitting demands" of our daily life. "By practicing silence, you nurture your listening skills. You find your true self. You hear the quiet voice of God."
What does one do with all this silence and solitude?
A retreat offers the seeker an opportunity to experience a variety of approaches to communicating with the divine. One's channel to God may occur through meditation and contemplation, and prayer. Most monasteries either ask for complete quiet or at least have silent hours. The idea is that in silence one can't hide from one's problems, or from God. The retreat environment provides one with time to experience the peace and joy of meditation and contemplation in his quest for the Divine. The simple regularity of prayers, meals, rest and communion offered by spiritual retreats keeps one spiritually and physically healthy.
How can a spiritual retreat assist my ability to live in the world?
Father Thomas Keating states, "A retreat is not a substitute for daily life. It should be a booster and an accelerator of the spiritual journey - you go a long way in a short time. But if it is not continued then by some daily process, its primary benefit and effect will be missed." A retreat provides a focussed opportunity to learn and strengthen practices which may lead us to a "shift in perception', thereby changing our relationship with life and the world around us. This, say some, is the 'miracle' of the spiritual journey in life.
How does a retreat help one to grow as a spiritual being?
We are naturally spiritual beings, living human lives. In the book of Hosea, God invites us to 'come to the desert to pray and He will speak to our hearts'. Retreat allows us to break our ordinary pattern of daily life. When we turn off the television and cell phones, we are in an environment to affirm our commitment to spiritual priorities. In stillness we nourish our life with the solitude of silence, meditation and prayer.
What else can I expect on retreat?
A retreat provides you the environment to rest your body, mind and soul. A retreat is an invitation from God to "come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest". It is a place where one is re-energized and more aware of the body, mind and soul connection. It is a vacation from the stresses of life. Remember: Even God rested on the seventh day.
Welcome to the Journey!
May your path be blessed and your commitment rewarded.