In the early months of this year I was invited to join a group who organise an annual retreat. It’s been a long time since some of my contemporaries and I enjoyed conferences, and the last year has taught me to step out of my comfort zone. So here I am on retreat.
Second night in, I’m hoping that I will sleep tonight. Strange bed, unusual noises and the concern that I wouldn’t be up in time for the period of silence at 7.30am this morning all meant I didn’t sleep well. So hopefully tonight, the darkness will win and once my head hits the pillow I will be gone.
The retreat has offered opportunity for theological reflection, and prior to meeting there was reading which could be done. So I did. Perhaps more importantly it has allowed space and time for silence. In each day there are marked times when silence can be held, and there is no need to engage with those around. It makes for a restful day. During some of the spoken reflections some become so relaxed that occasionally sleeping takes place, not helped by a warm church building.
Time to enjoy the space and energy of a building or of the world outside is precious. Much of our lives are lived at full throttle as we run from one task to the next, ticking the boxes so that we can achieve something. This three days I will achieve nothing, but space in my head.
It is amusing to think that today I sat in a pew for over an hour and a half, and would have quite happily stayed a little longer but unfortunately nature called. Amusing because come Sunday at worship I will be working against the clock, because there is a sense from some in a congregation that worship should be time limited. No more than an hour for some, because we need to keep our encounter with the Divine to a limited period. You never know if we don’t we might hear something that will encourage us to change, and who wants to the let the Creator of our lives cause us to be different.
Time to ponder and reflect on how we measure our days, because if it is only with minutes and seconds they will fly by too quickly to spot the unusual and the spontaneous.