Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)
TITLE: MY RETREAT WITHIN
By Robin McGowan
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As I think of the word retreat, normally described as a quiet time away, I begin to think of my broken heart. A heart that has taken a sabbatical from life, love and the pursuit thereof. You see, I am currently going through a painful divorce. Painful from the perspective that it was my second marriage; for so many have my hopes and dreams were invested in that wonderful experience. On most days, I look backwards and recall what was, instead of looking forward to what might someday be. And, in spite of my faith, I am challenged with unsettled emotions, and the process of grief. This has been my retreat, my quiet time away. Not your ordinary retreat, but it has been an extraordinary retreat.
During this time, I learned that one does not necessarily have to take a retreat where you go to a special church or pristine place of worship In fact, one does not have to retreat to any one place. You can be right where you are. I have found that most retreats are often weekend get–away’s that afford you time to mediate, time to pray, and time to embrace and hear a new message and new perspective on your life. Ironically, you then get busy retreating right back into your old life making little or no change. To me, those retreats are empowering for a short time, but not life-changing.
Consequently, the most inspiring retreats I have found are those that I have had when dealing with a crisis, such as the one I am currently dealing with through divorce. I have retreated within my heart and soul to find God, to draw on his source of strength, and to cry, rage, and then find hope again. I have moments or hours where I retreat within and briefly experience inner peace, beauty and love; and other moments where I experience loss, hurt, and despair. But I see the evidence of personal growth as I struggle to be whole again. I see that this retreat into my heart and soul was necessary for my healing. I see the usefulness that this time has offered, and I am thankful to God knowing it was not what I wanted but necessary.
Moreover, God is slowing molding me into a new me, a better me. I think of my pain as my emission into a new life. My retreat has been for five months now, and I have learned more from this quiet time away from life, than from any one retreat that I have ever been on. And what I have found is that many people have been on my retreat, my crisis, and my path. As I am growing, I have found that I am able to keep my heart open and to share with those that may have been on similar retreats. I have grown to respect such experiences. If I would of never experienced this inner retreat, (but retreat nonetheless), I would not be the person I am today.
All things considered, my retreat was the best experience that I have ever been on. I would not want to experience this time again, but if I had to I know that God will be with me, guiding and sustaining me. For his word is true as stated in Psalm 54:4 (NIV): “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” I learned so many things about God and myself. I learned about how fragile and mysterious human nature and the human heart can be. And I am better for this experience, and for this retreat. I can now embrace life once again.
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