In My Father's House

Poems, Prayers, Inspirations, Photos and Musings about life, love and what it means to be a child of the Father

Sunday, May 15, 2005

What is a Retreat?

Despite the resurgence of retreat movements and the flourishing of retreat houses all over the world in recognition of people's growing hunger with God, little is known about retreats. What is a retreat then? I will offer you a few images that I've learned from a friend, Fr. Albert Alejo of the Society of Jesus. He says that a retreat can be explained by using any of the following metaphors:

  • The Hurdle Athlete. An athlete who runs over hurdles needs to retreat to gather strength so she could surpass the hurdle set before her. The higher the hurdles, the farther back the athlete retreats. This way she is prepared to take on steeper heights by taking higher leaps.
  • The Painter. An artist engrossed with his masterpiece may need from time to time to step back, to retreat, to be able to see the bigger detail of what he is painting. This he does by leaving his canvas mounted on an easel and walking as far back as he can see his work. Sometime he may need to shut his eyes completely off so that fresh images and colors would flood his vision answering the color puzzle that eludes him for days or weeks or months.
  • The Mountain Climber. A mountain climber may need a few days off in order for him to prepare for a dauting task of scaling heights. He may need to bring along a few things that would not encumber him in his climb, just the necessary implements--water jug, sleeping bag, climbing gear and the like. Then he leaves the city, leaves his work, leaves his family and relationships--not permamently though. He leaves them so that on top of that mountain he can contemplate where he has gone wrong, where things are missing in his life and what these things are. On top of the mountain, he sees where the river ends and where the plains and hills begin. He also sees the connections (or lose connections) of the various aspects of his life. Then he returns home, hopefully more attuned to those connections and be able to do something about it.
  • The Cabinet Cleaner. A retreat can be compared to someone who for the longest time has not found the opportunity to clean her cabinet. She sits down for awhile and opens the cabinets and drawers of her life. There she may discover letters, gifts and things that remind her of her relatives and friends. They may bring joy or sadness to her. She also discovers her long lost pair of earrings that she thought was gone forever. She also dicovers a bottle of medicine that at one time cured her of her depression. She looked at the label and sees that it has expired and has become a poison. Taking the same medicine could be lethal so she takes it away and throws it to the garbage bin. Because life is like that. We keep some things that may no longer be of value to us, in fact could even be poisonous to us. So we have to open our drawers and cabinets and see what's worth keep and what's worth a space in the garbage bin.
Those are just some of the images that we can use to explain what a retreat is. Anyone, in fact everyone should take a retreat at least once a year to see things in a better perspective, in a better light.

I will be on retreat starting today and ending on the 23rd of May. I ask for your prayers and I promise to pray for you too.

Son of the Prodigal


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