Give me a break!
I’m on retreat all next week and I can’t wait! For many people, the idea of sitting around, reading non-fiction books, refusing to leave my room (okay, I might go to the pool to read) and generally being alone in the quiet, doesn’t sound all that appealing. What I’ve learned is that all that quiet can be very annoying for the first few hours or even the first day or so. After that, something in me slows down, starts to listen deeply and, if I can stay with it, allows me to hear that little voice that tells me what I really think and feel underneath all the things I do.
I schedule this time away. It’s actually in my contract with the Center that I get 5 business days per year specifically for this. It’s not vacation time – that’s something different. This is dedicated to spiritual practice and not much else. Now, I consider napping and baths spiritual practice if they occur on retreat, but other than that, it’s just the usual stuff you expect a spiritual seeker to do. There’s a part of me that’s still Catholic enough that I wouldn’t be comfortable sneaking out to a movie during retreat time or channel surfing through whatever is on TV these days. Ted talks and documentaries are okay, but no Housewives of Whatever County.
I find that when I don’t make the time to do this slowing down, sometimes the Universe creates it for me. I remember once, long before I understood the concept of the Cosmic Two By Four, I was overdoing it and my car blew a gasket. I couldn’t do my job without a car, so I had to take a break. I was just grateful that it was the car that blew a gasket rather than me. Another time, while in ministerial school and working full time, I discovered myself on a San Diego freeway stuck in overdrive and without brakes. I got the message earlier at that point (and a new car, too!). My point is that if don’t slow down voluntarily, Spirit brings me to a screeching halt.
So what would a retreat look like for you? Would you be willing to try for just a few hours in the silence (awake, I mean) and see how it feels? Are you getting signals from the Universe that some quiet time is in order? Give it a shot and see how you feel. Your soul will thank you. And, maybe, so will your mechanic.