One of the “extras” I cut from my life were retreats at the monastery. I told myself I could write in my own study and indulge in silence all day long if I liked. Still, it’s not exactly the same. There is something unique about coming to a place set apart and saturated in prayer. That sense of consecration is what draws people like myself, who come to make a retreat.
Last September I began as the pastor at Hermon Presbyterian Church. With continuing education funds once again available, I was happy to return to the Abbey. As always, I had a list of projects to work on and a stack of books to read. But I also spent hours each day wandering in beauty, sitting in chapel, or simply staring out the window. As a bonus — I happened to be here for the one significant snowfall of the year. There is no prettier place to be when the world is hushed by snow.
One thing I value about dwelling in silence is the chance to notice the stray bits that echo in my heart. For instance, I received a few emails about church matters (on my phone), and was astounded how quickly and powerfully I became defensive and irritable. Being in this place, I had the space and time to notice that, and pray about it, and let the Spirit resolve the matter. I hadn’t realized those feelings were building, but obviously I was on the edge of feeling overworked and burdened. I had the feeling I got here just in time! So you can see that silence and snow are preventive health measures for my spirit.
How do you attend to your spiritual health?
The world will seldom ask that question. The world will simply ask you to keep getting and spending. Yet the Spirit has such gentle gifts to offer.