The Gift of Retreat

Okay, I know—it’s too soon to be talking Christmas. But The Banner recently asked me to write about a gift well worth planning early. So I figure that the sooner I share the piece, the better:

“There aren’t enough hours in a day.” Many of us utter this cliché in states of exhaustion, stress, or holiday fatigue. But what if we embraced Christmas as an occasion to give our weary loved ones some well-deserved rest? Not a tropical holiday or a spa date, but rather a gift of time—of retreat

A week, a weekend, or even just a day devoted to prayer and meditation in a quiet, beautiful setting will help a loved one reorient and refresh both heart and body.

Many traditions have centers open to the public for a spiritual “getaway,” but Jesuit retreat centers are perhaps the most common. The Loyola Centre in Guelph, Ont., offers either self-directed retreats or those guided by a trained spiritual director. Both include time to pray, read, and reflect in a beautiful pastoral environment.

For the artists on your list, a retreat away from regular routines and responsibilities could actually become a retreat back into their creative vocation.

In alternating years, Calvin College hosts both the Festival of Faith and Writing or the Festival of Faith and Music. For three days, writers and musicians or lovers of books and music seek to grow in their own expression and spiritual understanding. They can hear from masters of their craft and connect with artists at all levels. The festivals are packed with concerts, readings, theater productions, and open mics.

A longer but similar experience is available at The Glen Workshop. In these summer events put on by Image Journal, visual artists, musicians, and writers gather in either Santa Fe, N. Mex., or South Hadley, Mass., to critique each other’s submissions, learn from acclaimed artists, and worship together. There’s even a “retreat option” for those who wish to forgo workshops in favor of more relaxed mornings.

Talking shop with fellow writers while exploring Santa Fe, NM.

A gift like this reclaims the concept of “retreat,” not so much as a stepping away from a real life but rather as a movement into a fuller experience of the Father’s presence and an awareness of his call. Those who receive it will be reminded that every hour and season belong to God and will return to their everyday routines and relationships renewed.

4 thoughts on “The Gift of Retreat”

  1. I love this idea. I’ve been researching retreat centres in my part of Northern Ontario and may put some time at one of them on my wishlist.

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