Retreat: a period of withdrawal from worldly activities for prayer and meditation; withdrawal into privacy or seclusion, a place for this. (Oxford American Dictionary)
One of my earliest memories of taking retreat is from my college days, as a Delta Gamma pledge going on “walk-out.” My pledge class left campus one Friday afternoon to go somewhere secret and spend the weekend together. Our pledge trainer came with, along with a couple other active members we deemed worthy. We had a blast. Of course, we had some fraternity education that was supposed to prepare us to become full-fledged members, but what I remember most was the camaraderie and unity we felt as we cocooned from the world. Oh, and lots of great food!
In the days since then, I have been on an engaged couples retreat, Cursillo retreats, girlfriend getaway retreats, spa weekend retreat, one-day spiritual retreats, and business women retreats. My most recent retreat was with about twenty business women at a camp located near the snowy Dunes of Michigan. What a special gift to spend the bulk of an entire winter weekend learning from some of the best leaders and spirited entrepreneurs in Northwest Indiana.
As is typical of retreats, new friendships were cultivated that would have otherwise never had an opportunity to begin. The practicality of spending the time necessary to really get to know these women just would not happen in the course of “business as usual.” When we briefly break away from family, work, grocery shopping, laundry, etc, our minds settle into a different realm that is more open to change, friendship, and clarity. We learn that we are not alone in having bigger-than-life dreams and the courage necessary to bring them to fruition. Although each of us is on a unique journey, we all encounter a few lions, tigers and bears along the way.
In closing, if you have never gone on retreat, make a plan to go away. If you have gone on retreat, make a plan to go away. Why? In between the moonlit hikes, snowball fights, laughter and tears, you will experience a renewal of Spirit that can only come from withdrawal from the world. Oh, and lots of great food!
“In order to understand the world, one has to get away from it on occasion.” Albert Camus