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December 7, 1998


I spent the past five days on retreat. I know a lot of people don't know what the hell a retreat is or what exactly do people do on a retreat so I figured I would start by kind of giving the blow by blow.

The reasons people go on retreat vary from individual to individual. Most go because they want to get closer to God or to recharge their batteries. I guess I went for a little of both.

Retreat houses exist all over the country. I went to a Jesuit Retreat house in Atlanta. Most retreat houses would resemble a motel built in the country. However this motel would not have any television set, or telephone or bar. So all the usual distractions are removed.

So what do you do on a retreat?

Well mostly think and pray.

Now I have been off and on living on a farm for the past six months. So I obviously have had time to think about stuff. But sometimes too much thinking can lead to no thinking. That is why prayer is so important.

It is kind of like seeing where you live from the sky. You kind of see where everything is and it's relation to everything else.

Prayer-talking to God-accomplishes the same thing.

A retreat gives you opportunities to pray and think. How does it do this?

The particular retreat was a silent retreat. That means that talking is not allowed for the course of the retreat. A priest would give 20 minute talks about five times a day, the purpose of these talks being to help you focus on some aspect of your relationship with God. Then you go off and walk or sit in a chapel and think about it.

The most difficult part of a retreat like this is eating meals. There is something about eating that creates an urge within me to talk or read the newspaper. At a silent retreat neither is possible. So you sit looking at the wall or observing how the overweight people take the most food and castigate yourself for noticing since this is a retreat after all.

Nighttime is also difficult. The last conference was at 7:30. I would go out for a walk praying the rosary and thinking. I came back to the room it was only 8:30. I picked up a book and read a sizable portion. It was now almost 9 p.m.

Next the fruit of a retreat or what did I learn on my little retreat?


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