Saturated with Peace: Experiencing Personal Retreat
I’m not sure what I was seeking over a decade ago, when I signed up for a 24 hour “teacher’s retreat” at St. Paul’s Monastery. It was mid-August, my time to squeeze in one more week of summer’s leisure pace before the craziness of teaching three grade levels in my public Montessori school classroom. My mother had passed away a few months before, our son was just starting high school, and our married daughters each had a new grandchild with whom I longed to spend time.
I don’t remember the content of the retreat, but I do remember being saturated with peace, the privacy of my room, the unhurried pace, smiles of the Sisters, and the rhythm of prayers (and the delicious meals!). It was so inviting. I would have to give myself this gift again!
For the rest of my employed life, I returned twice a year with a load of classroom work to accomplish. The balance of work and prayer, which I came to understand as the bedrock of Benedictine life, agreed with me. No matter how much I had brought to finish, as long as I surrounded it with time for prayer, exercise and the collegiality of meals, the work somehow was completed by the time I left to go home! This taught me to notice the work of the Holy Spirit and got me hooked on the Benedictine Way.
As a Benedictine Oblate now, I have many opportunities to be at the Monastery. I volunteer, attend directed retreats and join in community time. But even in these days of retirement, I find I still need the refreshment of a personal retreat. The projects I bring now have not the scope nor significance of my classroom work, but stir in me the same joy. I have time to browse in the library, read a book from home I found on my shelf, knit, pray in the chapel, and walk in the woods.
I often bring my daughter with me. The Monastery offers her the kind of peace and unhurried time unknown in her world of four young children and their varied activities. Together we have time for just the two of us - mother and daughter—without interrupting voices, individual time for our own endeavors, and community time at prayer and meals with the sisters.
Which reminds me, we haven’t made our next retreat plans yet! Time to call the Benedictine Center!
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Learn more about core Benedictine values.