Before I follow up (click here for part I), I want to say that I’ve learned that talking too much about a splendid spiritual experience is problematic:
1. There’s really no way language can encompass something mystical (an experience with the divine). It just won’t translate.
2. Sometimes the more you sort it out the more the sweet memory lifts in a puff and vaporizes. I just hate doing that to it. It’s like squeezing a kitten until you hear a pop. Bad idea.
(And the details work more like forensics too, like writing a research paper on your first kiss. By paragraph three you just regret starting to tackle the project at all. Not that I tried to do that, because that would be weird.)
I don’t pray the whole time when I go away for a prayer retreat. I have a Brother Lawrence life of faith, mostly. Integrated. That means Life is Prayer. Prayer is lived. Each breath is an exchange of that gift of life up into the atmosphere. That hope and petition… and God is everywhere, receiving it with a smile.
Sometimes when I tell people I go for a whole day to pray, I get weird looks. They think it must be work or simply beyond boring. Or worst of all…that it’s super spiritual and religious. It’s not whatsoever. It’s carnival of inner joy. I wish it for everyone.
A typical day away
So when I’m there, I turn off my phone, I walk the halls or the grounds, enjoy the paintings, sculptures, the plants, gardens, wildlife and scenery. I pray, worship, and intercede for others in the onsite chapel or in the little alcoves, prayer rooms, the library, or benches outdoors. When I get stiff I stretch and walk a bit more. I journal, write prayers, take notes and a few photos, and I read scripture or devotional books… just short bits. They have an art room, so sometimes I draw or paint. I enjoy snacks I brought and a good hearty lunch on the grounds. I make sure that nothing is done out of obligation or becomes drudgery. Sometimes I just sit there and be. Many times. I allow myself to truly relax and be myself. How life-giving it is. My heart fills up. It is truly sacred space. Somehow more fully the permission is given, the place is consecrated for pilgrims to come alive and enjoy it all, and feel loved ever deeply by our good Maker. Do you like picnics? It’s like that.
Sometimes I feel the shine of God and sometimes it seems God is thinking and being quiet next to me. We’re friends and friends can do that.
So, instead of going into everything I enjoyed and relished in the details, I’ll share a few field notes and let the rest be hidden to ponder in my heart.
• The Sacred will hush you and bring you home.
• As jars of clay filled with treasure (God within) we need rest and reconnection to be cleaned out and readied for God’s use in holy work.
• Life is short, bitter-sweet, and suffused with exquisite joy and ravaging sorrow–all that makes us more human but it takes divine healing through it to become whole. We are simply too fragile to do “being human” apart. Beside God, we need people who love God. People have God inside, and that helps.
• The birds aren’t frantic as I assumed for too long; they are alive with work. Excited to be themselves.
• Deep calls to Deep. In God’s whispers the deepest parts of ourselves are stirred yet we often mistake it for others things.
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When was the last time you got away?
If you’d like to go and you live near Reading/Lebanon, Pa, let me know. I’m always happy to go with a companion. I travel there with a friend or two, then we go off, each own our way to enjoy God or pray and then meet back up for lunch and sometimes discuss it a bit.
I also offer a guided experience there, and more info for that is here if you are interested.