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Retreat Takeaways

That cabin was exactly what I needed.


There was so much silence that, by the first morning, it felt like pressure on my eardrums and I was straining to hear something - anything - beyond the soft whooshing of my own circulatory system. Once I got used to the silence, to the discomfort, it was cosy.


Part of the reason for personal retreats is to be able to take a step back, regroup, and take a look at your personal/spiritual needs and whether or not your daily life is actually meeting those needs. Some people use various personality inventories or spiritual path assessments for this task - I used the inventory created for the book Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. I knew I was a Naturalist (find spiritual connection through nature), but I didn't realize I am also an Ascetic (find spiritual connection through solitude.) It makes sense. Ascetics retreat into aritificial isolation in order to focus more fully on their connection to God. This is what monks do, both Christian variety and others.


Here's where it gets interesting.


A few weeks ago, I identified a piece of my personality that unconsciously collects challenging circumstances so that I can feel like I'm accomplishing something by overcoming them. I wrote about it last week, in fact. In my reflections this weekend, I realized a side-effect of my perpetual busyness that I hadn't recognized the import of - by being so perpetually busy, I'm isolating myself. I think, in my isolation, I'm unconsciously attempting to recreate the solitude I do need in order to support my spiritual side healthily. But I'm actually unravelling myself in order to keep up that isolation.


So I'm left with an awareness that I need to insert intentional daily, weekly, and monthly times of solitude into life. Yearly I think I can do - I really like the idea of heading out to this friend's cabin each August. Daily isn't too bad, as long as I don't allow myself to get distracted by my phone. Weekly and monthly are the tricky ones and will take some thought.


On the fun side, I really connected well with my book-that's-been-20-years-in-progress over the weekend. It's no longer daunting, just complex and it will take a bit to wrap my head around all my previous notes. But I'm actually excited to begin work on it again.




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