Why do people come here on retreat?
One day a young woman came into to the retreat house to inquire about coming here for a few days. She had never been on retreat and was wondering if it would be good for her to do so. So she asked me if it was a good idea for her to come. After a few questions, I learned that she was Jewish, not overly religious but felt a need for quiet and some solitude for a few days.
Her question was a good one, and I get it asked of me from time to time. I guess we could start by saying that not everyone comes for retreat for the same reasons….all of which are equal in importance. Some come for simple rest, in fact there are retreatants who come and sleep most of the time they are here. Something they need. Others come to settle down and to focus on what is most important for them. They come and write, go for long walks, but pretty much stay to themselves. We only see them for meals. Others come to make a conscious attempt to deepen their relationship with God. They are all unique of course. Many in this group will attend our prayer services and even ask to see a monk for one on one time. Others, who are of the Catholic faith, come for a desire to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and spend time in deep prayer and in reading the Scriptures. They will often spend a great deal of time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The same can be said for the many Christians who come here from other traditions. We seek to provide an environment that is conducive for all to find a place where they can do what they need to do, as well as to allow the quiet to the allow the Spirit to speak to them. All are welcome, no matter their faith tradition, or lack of one. Each is honored as a child of God who are on a pilgrimage we call our lives.
We also have subject specific retreats on most weekends and sometimes during the week that many come to. We have them on just about all areas of life and we do have outside speakers come in to give retreats. We have Carl MacColman, Martha Gross, Sandy Major and Jackie Rychlicki and Victor and Dewey Kramer, who also either give a retreat on their own, or help out one of the monks in their retreats. All are well received by those who come here. They add depth and a wider perspective, often speaking to the everyday experiences of those who come here.
There is no one right way to make a retreat, nor is the outcome always what is expected. Yet when most leave, they feel that they get what they come for, or needed without knowing it when they arrived. We are here to help our retreatants to connect with God as well as themselves. One without the other is not possible. So a certain amount of silence and inner struggle is needed, so choices can be made to embrace the self knowledge that comes with making this journey. Hopefully on reentry, they will integrate their experiences over into their everyday lives, giving it direction and meaning, allowing the mundane events to take on deeper significance.