The holidays are over. If you happen to be operating on an academic calendar like I am, the semester is over—except that today I begin three days of all-day ordination exams… Regardless, the last few weeks have been busy ones for many of us.
Perhaps you’re ready to hit a refresh button (or you will be by Friday, when you’ve finished GOEs).
Retreats provide refreshment and renewal. They are a great place for creative types to seek inspiration. They are a great place for introverts to recharge. They are a great place to rest and emerge refreshed to jump back into life. With busy lives, numerous commitments, and limited financial resources, however, arranging for a formal retreat is not always easy.
With that in mind, here’s a loose outline for a 3-hour retreat that you can do right at home! It may not seem like much, but even a few hours of stepping away can help reset a busy, overwhelmed schedule. It’s also hard to feel guilty about a measly three hours—I think I’ve wasted that much time just following an Internet rabbit hole!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A 3-hour stretch of uninterrupted time
- A space you can reasonably expect to be quiet and free from interruptions (if you live with other adults, tell them you’ll be out of commission for a few hours; if you live with children, consider finding childcare—you deserve it; if you can’t conceivably find a quiet place at home, consider going somewhere
- Access to clean, cool water
- Notebook and pen/pencil
- A Bible
- A book you’ve been meaning to read, whether that’s spiritual writing or a novel. Not something you have to read outside of this context. Or, if you wish, something else you do for fun that does not involve noise or light (e.g. knitting)
Here’s what you’ll do:
- Turn off all your devices. For three hours you will not be available, and you will not need anything with a screen. If you will be using your phone as a timekeeper, turn it to airplane mode.
- Drink a glass of water. Often we get so caught up in running from place to place that we forget to hydrate. Drink a glass of water at the beginning of each hour.
- Settle yourself in a comfortable spot, and just be quiet for a couple of minutes. Ask God to guide you as God will through the next few hours.
- Do as you feel led; don’t feel tied down to the schedule (which is already quite loose).
- Hour 1: Meditate on a Bible passage. If you are being led to a particular passage, choose that one. Otherwise Matthew 6:25-34 or Psalm 121 are good options. Read through the passage a few times, slowly. Sit and let the words seep in. Then use your notebook to journal your thoughts about the passage. What might God be trying to tell you?
- Hour 2: Remember your second glass of water. This hour is for recreation: take out that book and just lose yourself in it for an hour. Try not to think about anything you should be doing instead
- Hour 3: Water again! As you begin this hour, ask God and yourself what you need from your final hour. Do you need to keep reading? Do you need to go back to journaling, or spend more time in scripture? Do you need to take a nap? Do as you feel led to do; follow your enjoyment.
- When you have about 10 minutes remaining of your time, put away what you were doing (or wake up), and thank God for the time you were able to spend on renewal and refreshment. Enjoy the quiet for a few more minutes. Then, when the time is up, return to life as usual.
Have you ever done a DIY retreat? What did you do? What do you suggest?