On making the perfect spiritual retreat.

That’s what it’s called. Making a retreat. And I want to make it right.

It’s the final project for a class I’m taking, “Spiritual Formation.” Actually, I’m auditing the class. I wouldn’t have to go on the retreat. But I need it.

Personal Spiritual Retreat. The assignment is to spend one full day (at least an 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. type of time frame) in personal retreat. Get off by yourself to read, reflect, meditate, pray, think about life, ministry, etc. Reflect on our class time – readings, discussions, etc. Use some of the disciplines and practices we have discussed to connect with God and take stock of your life.

Going on a retreat, taking a day away, going off by myself–whatever you call it, I find it hard. The difficulty is not the quiet or the solitude or the silence. Those come more easily all the time. I’ve learned to not have a radio, to leave the TV off. I’m working on letting go of Internet. I love to read.

No, the difficulty is relational. I want to make sure that I am making a retreat right for all the people who have standards about such things. If I am doing it for a class, I want to make sure that I am measuring up. If I am taking time away from my family, I want to make sure that I accomplish something, that I have a really good, spiritually productive retreat. If I am taking time from work, I want to make sure that the church is getting a good spiritual return on their investment.

I understand the irony in all of those concerns. There is a fundamental tension between productivity and retreat. But I’m relaxed now. Because the perfect spiritual retreat is, I think, the one you actually make.


About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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