Contemplative Life

The Importance of Retreat

What is retreat, and why do we do it?  Retreat is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director.”  A Christian retreat is often referred to as a definite time spent away from one’s normal life for the purpose of reconnecting, usually in prayer, with God.  As I learned in a retreat at Corhaven last month, a retreat in America is usually in a group, but in Europe, it is usually a personal endeavor.  However we retreat, I am interested in why we retreat, and why we should retreat.

A biblical example of a retreat is Jesus fasting in the desert for forty days, and similarly we use that story during this season of Lent to understand even more spiritual exercises.  Therefore, this is a great time to explore retreat (two birds-one stone).  One reason we try to get away from distractions in our spiritual meditations is because Christianity is not a religion that you get from your church.  Christianity is a relationship, and a relationship requires communication.  I am suggesting that it is easier to communicate to God with fewer distractions from your comfortable living space.

Growing up in the Church of the Brethren, I went to numerous retreats.  I guess I went to see old friends and meet new ones too, but I honestly went back because I always learned something new and exciting about Jesus.  I learned a lesson that was directed towards me, and it always applied somehow in my life.  Now that I am a little older, I see retreats with adults yearning for the same experience, and the opportunity is ignited at Corhaven.  I have learned how to talk to God by myself, and how to listen to him.

People can simply pray anywhere, but there is something in being removed from your current surroundings that lets you learn something new about Jesus, and about yourself.  Wilderness is often a wonderful place to be on a retreat because  God’s beauty, creation, and presence is evident there.  You can find God in the city, and in nature, you may hear God clearly and without distractions.  The outdoors is not just a place you can see God’s wonder, but a place you will feel God’s presence.

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