I spent this last weekend on retreat.
I’m an Associate of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, an Anglican religious order of women based in Toronto. I’m not a nun, but as an Associate I do live by a particular Rule of Life. (For more on a Rule of Life, see the Canadian Book of Common Prayer, page 555.) As an Associate of SSJD, I have vowed to support the Sisterhood’s ministry and mission, to pray Morning and Evening Prayer daily, to study scripture and read other spiritual writings. I have covenanted to intentionally live out a Christian life in helping to work for justice and peace in this world. And I have promised to make an annual retreat.
Taking times of retreat, time apart from our everyday lives to seek out God’s voice for ourselves, can be a deeply important and meaningful spiritual practice for anyone.
What do you do on a retreat? That will depend on what makes sense for you, but over the years some things I’ve done on retreat have included:
- Sitting in silent meditation, sometimes with a particular passage from scripture or short prayer in mind
- Participating in the worship life of the Sisters
- Reading the Bible and other spiritual books
- Drawing and colouring; mandalas, Celtic crosses, simple crayon drawings
- Putting together a jigsaw puzzle while praying about the puzzle pieces of my own life
- Knitting or other repetitive crafting
- Praying an Anglican rosary
- Walking a labyrinth or other walking prayer
- Yoga and other gentle stretching or body prayer
We’re at the busiest time of the term, when papers are coming due and classes almost-but-not-quite-yet-over. Many of our students and faculty have a lot going on in their lives outside of school, as well. The idea of making time for a retreat might seem ludicrous to some.
Yet I would encourage you to try, even if it’s just a single morning or afternoon, to make a date with God. Your Divine Lover would love to spend the time, just the two of you, together.
This message was written by Heather McCance for this week’s Wingèd Ox, a weekly news digest distributed to the college community.