Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Spirituality of Retreat

One of the things you will learn about me is my love for spiritual formation. I believe God’s people are called to a growing, experiential relationship with Jesus that shapes us over time into the image of Christ for the sake of others. Being a Christian is more than assent to a set of beliefs and it’s more than doing good things. It’s ultimately about the heart, about being changed “from one degree of glory to another” as Paul said it. One of the most wonderful gifts God has given us for inner change is the gift of retreat.

I didn't know the terminology for it, but this longing began when I was a youth and was active at summer camp at Sumatanga. I grew up going to junior high, mid high, and senior high summer camps as well as spiritual life weekends throughout the year. I loved my church and youth group, but “getting away” became refreshing rhythm. It was one of the early ways I found my soul was continually shaped by grace. In later years, spiritual formation experiences such as Music and Arts Week, Emmaus, and the Academy for Spiritual Formation allowed me the space to continue to become.

I have found that as my life has unfolded as a huge adventure, full of joys as well as sorrows, full of great challenges and overwhelming obstacles as well as spiritual “highs,” I keep coming back to the need to get away to find peace and perspective, if only for brief periods built into my day punctuated by occasional retreats and covenant group getaways. Jesus certainly did it. I hope you will too.

It’s not a vacation. It’s a vocation.

Pictured is a trail to a small hermitage cabin I love near Gethsemane in Kentucky