Contemplative Life

A Common, Remarkable Experience While Driving to Corhaven

Recently a man in his mid-30s (professional, deep Christian, father of four young children) came out to Corhaven from Arlington for a retreat, and met God.  He was kind enough to put it into words.  He had an experience that was uniquely his, but one that I’ve heard so often that I wanted to highlight it.  It was that moment that many have, when driving to Corhaven, of when somehow the crazy (whatever the crazy is) fades into the rearview mirror on the way to be present with God.  If you live in Washington or northern Virginia, or any other place where a lot of people live, I bet you can relate to this testimony if you’ve ever taken a drive to go on retreat.  –Bill

It’s been two weeks since visiting Corhaven. What a blessing that time was. When we spoke that day, I asked you why people come to Corhaven. Without reservation, you said (approximately) “There are two reasons why people come to Corhaven. The first is they need rest and want to spend time with Jesus. The second is they are seeking answers to a major problem or perhaps trying to make a significant life decision.” You then went on to say “With the later group, I typically find the Lord is using the question or problem as bait, to get them to come to Corhaven, so they might rest and spend time with Jesus.

I was undoubtedly in that later group. You know my circumstances.

When I asked to come to Corhaven for a day, I had no idea what to expect. In fact, I knew very little about Corhaven but I felt it was where I needed to be. So I began the 1.5 hour drive from DC. Here was my experience:

I was about halfway into the drive when I sensed something in my surroundings change. It was so noticeable, that I looked in my rearview mirror, thinking I must have missed something. It felt as though I had just driven out of a cloud of fog into daylight. I wish I had thought to observe a mile marker or some other landmark. I was so struck by the change that I contemplated calling my wife to share the experience.

I then recalled hearing people talk about the Washington D.C. area and its “spirit” of busyness. I had even heard accounts of people sensing this spirit of busyness as they flew over the Washington D.C. area in a plane. I would describe it as this insatiable drive to “do” and “have”. It’s very distracting.

As someone who lives in Northern Virginia, I rarely think about this spirit of busyness, it’s just the way we live – our modus operandi. But I cannot deny the physical sense I had, while driving to Corhaven, of escaping the cloud of fog.

And I arrived at Corhaven… to rest and spend time with Jesus.

Time at Corhaven was the antithesis of busyness. One small lesson I learned during my time at Corhaven was this:   Do not make your plans to navigate the chaos and distractions amidst the chaos and distractions you’re trying to address!   Make consistent your retreat to hear, seek, and find the Lord’s voice, heart, and manna.

Thank you again for opening your doors to me and for making Corhaven available. I am still learning from my time there and am eager to return.

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