The past couple of days have been a wonderful challenge. I have been on retreat in "West Marin," a region of California that is just about as rural as rural can get. With great food and funky/sophisticated folk to look at in the meantime.
We are using a house up a canyon, sitting about a half mile from a horse ranch/riding center. We are nestled in a nook of the county that is just outside of Nicasio. Great space.
Usually, there are nine of us on these retreats. Due to business and personal commitments, we are actually six. One is in transition. One is "on call" for surgery and another is fighting a health issue.
Still, the week has been a good one. We have had some great food, wonderful conversation and we are still hashing through some weighty theological stuff. The main effort we express with each other is a semi-annual "check-in" in which we give what we are working on personally, vocationally and professionally. I talked about the current workload around the parish, how we are dealing with each other at this point as transition and "settling in" proceed. What are we reading? How can we support each other in ministry, in life?
What I love about this time is that it is truly a moment to be away. It gives me a chance to look at my life, not only with some measure of objective critique; but also taking a moment or two to lense my life through my peer's eyes. Their troubles and triumphs and mine, and vice versa.
It is made sweeter by taking time, eating good food, avoiding television and news outlets. Simply being for a time.
That, in the end, is what it means to be on retreat. It is not so much an analysis my own belly button, rather a genuine opportunity to be at ease with the intent to refresh.
And then, back. Back to Advent!