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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual retreat’

Jo 23During the past week, I experienced what is a rare treat for me—a rejuvenating ‘ultimate facial’ in a quiet, restful beauty salon. For an hour and a half, I was surrounded by wonderful aromas and relaxing music as I enjoyed some very necessary skin revitalising, along with a gentle hand and foot massage, at the experienced hands of our beauty therapist daughter. But what made it even more enjoyable was the fact that this was a birthday gift from her, paid for and administered with love.

On another day, I made a much needed visit to a physiotherapist, in an attempt to fix some old injuries I suffered last year during a fall while out walking. There my body was treated with care once again, although this time with much firmer massaging that will hopefully bring more healing and strength to those parts of me that have been damaged.

In this same week, I also enjoyed several meals out with various friends and family members. One evening, we shared a pleasant dinner with a guest in our own home. Over all these meals, I enjoyed not only the food but also the good conversations that took place and, while my body might well not have needed so much food indulgence, my mind and spirit were enriched by these experiences.

In the midst of this, I found time to watch some tennis on TV and feel sorry for those players, toiling away so hard to win those matches, as I relaxed in the coolness of our lounge room. Yes, I also cooked and gardened and wrote a little and minded grandchildren—but I tried to take care of myself in the process and enjoy the moment, being thankful I can do all these things. I am not renowned in my family for caring overly well for myself but am slowly learning not to see it as self-indulgence but rather as good stewardship of the resources God has given me.

Yet there is something else I need to do, if I am to be ready to do the things God has for me to do. I need to put time aside to listen to God in a deliberate, focussed way. How easy it is to overlook our spiritual wellbeing as we care for ourselves in other ways! This in turn can affect our minds and emotions and even our bodies, I believe. We need to care for ourselves in a holistic manner—otherwise we may end up unable to function as God created us to function.

So this week, I am taking part in a three day spiritual retreat where I hope to hear inspiring input, be creative, have good conversation with others, yet also find time to be alone with God. I want God’s Spirit to renew me and to resource me deep down for the year ahead, so that out of that overflow within me, God can refresh others.

How are you at caring for every part of you? Are you, like me, learning to do this better?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

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I could have gone away on a short trip with my husband these past few days, but, much as I love him, I was not interested in going. For starters, we have only recently returned from a busy time interstate, followed in quick succession by the launch of my non-fiction book Soul Friend. But secondly, I knew I needed some space—just a few quieter days when I could get my bearings again. Have you ever felt like that?

At times when I have been too much ‘with people’ for my introverted self to manage well, an old poem I studied at high school pops into my head. It is by Wordsworth and begins like this:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Now in these past few weeks, I have been very happy that ‘the world’ has been with me! I have been part of events that were very necessary and with people whose company I enjoyed. I have given input at a writers’ getaway. I have sat signing my books in a bookstore. I have spoken at three meetings in widely differing settings. And I have held my own book launch—a wonderful time when friends came together to celebrate the release of my very first work of non-fiction. I loved relating to people in all these contexts. But there comes a time, even after the most rewarding run of public events, when the world definitely seems too much with me.

I doubt Wordsworth meant exactly what I mean by this phrase. It seems he was writing about the materialism he saw in the world around him—how people had lost touch with nature and with the whole spiritual dimension of life. It is hardly too materialistic for me to care about speaking at meetings where I hope to point people to God and encourage them to use their gifts to bless this world in whatever way they can. And it is very necessary for me to promote my new book via a launch or any other way. After all, I believe in it and want people to read it. Besides, even if all my books sold at every event I spoke at, I would not be raking in my millions!

But after such busyness, I feel I need to give myself time to find myself once more, to let the fragments of my spirit come together again, as it were, to sense God’s close presence around me and to be realigned with God’s purposes for the next thing I am to do. Not that I jump into preparing for that straight away. For a while, it is as if my spirit needs to be healed, replenished and strengthened by God’s Spirit. And for me, that means quietness and space by myself—a little retreat from that place where the world is too much with me.

Just now, I found myself longing for some encouraging verses from Scripture. I picked up my bible and the page opened at Psalm 46:

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (10-11)

That says it all, don’t you think?

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