I enjoy religious days of reflection and retreat weekends, but due to the pandemic and perhaps to my being overly cautious, I have not indulged in such a program since February 2020. Any of us, however, can choose a day and make it retreat-like. It would have to be a work-free day, maybe on a weekend, on which we could somewhat separate ourselves from family and friends to create a private holy space in which to think, read, and pray.
Starting the retreat day with a Mass is a good idea. Invite the Body of Christ to walk with you. It would not be necessary to lock yourself in your bedroom. Retreat houses have various rooms and comfortable furniture. Many of them also have lovely grounds on which to take meditative, prayerful walks. On this self-retreat day, a walk or two in your own yard or around your neighborhood is a possible activity, weather permitting. Praying with nature often prompts reflection on the beauty and grandeur surrounding us: the vastness and bounty of our Creator. We may have to direct our eyes upward with more attention on small wonders or simple miracles of creation. Look again, and again.
Prayer books or spiritual reading material can provide food for reflection. I have books I keep promising myself I am going to read and never quite get to them. On this proposed “day away,” allowing time to relax with good spiritual reading material can allow the Holy Spirit to teach and inspire you.
Turning off contact with others by cell phones and computers for just a few hours can really be freeing. You might even alert those dear to you that you are doing a self-directed retreat day and will turn off electronics during specific hours. Quiet time can be very rewarding.
I take notes when I go to a retreat or day of reflection at a retreat house. If a question about a spiritual matter arises, write it down with the intention of seeking an answer. Perhaps a phrase or prayer response particularly strikes your fancy. Jot that down for repeated use. You might use your electronics to find a favorite hymn or spiritual song with which to sing along or as background music for prayer time. Self-retreat days can teach you a little more about yourself. Don’t forget the commandment about loving others as you love yourself.
You might want to ask your patron saint or a favorite saint to pray for you on that day away. Our Blessed Mother prays for us, so why not talk to her about helping with your day-away agenda? Just for a day, try to be eagerly open and attentive to the Lord. Put your habitual routine on hold. Visualize stowing your worries and mundane thoughts into an overnight bag and start fresh.
Photo by Patrick Forte on Unsplash
The psalm verse is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.