Silent Retreat–A Call To Renewal

I’ve returned from Silent Retreat—40 women spent a long weekend not talking—not texting, not phoning, not even writing notes . . . not even at mealtime.  Impossible, you say?  Let me share what we gleaned.


IMG_0467Solitude.  Prayer.  Peace.  Renewal, from the inside out.


It’s the official opening of the year for me, much more so than New Year’s Day.  I know that no matter how busy and hectic the Christmas Season—and it always is and is wonderful—come late January or early February I will go to that still, quiet, place where I will hear more clearly that Still, Small Voice.  I will go with questions and sometimes daunted hopes and broken dreams.  I will go seeking solace and direction and answers and affirmation of His unfailing love for me, His belief that I will yet, through Christ, emerge victorious.

I go with my precious niece.  Fourteen years we’ve been doing this.  It’s our annual date, only to be broken through extreme circumstances, like the birth of her baby eight years ago or the death of my mother-in-law last year.  We meet Friday night for an early dinner and a long chat.  And though that helps, we often find we’re just warming up—there’s so much to catch up on. We room across the hall from one another but don’t speak because we’re focused on talking with the Lord, on going to Him with everything and waiting in the silence for Him to speak to our hearts and minds.

There’s always a wonderful speaker—a Christian woman, usually an author, who speaks on Friday night, twice on Saturday and once on Sunday.  This year’s speaker was Jane Rubietta, a delightful speaker, author of a host of wonderful books (one of my favorites for a silent retreat is Quiet Places: A Woman’s Guide to Personal Retreat), and a dear sister in Christ.

We close with communion and sharing—yes, we get to talk then—on Sunday! Lunch sounds like a dozen beehives turned loose.  Then there’s lots of hugging and happiness and promises to pray for one another and high-fives of the heart until next year.  We glow on the outside, perhaps feel a little tired from all the introspection, but walk away so much richer than we came.

IMG_0474I sometimes wonder if going somewhere else for a silent retreat would be just as helpful, or if it would lose something.  Pristine grounds that beckon long walks, the worn façade of the grand old house, the simple rooms without television or radio or even clocks are things I’ve come to depend on—all points that help to frame this quiet.  Everything about it says and allows me to “come away.”

This is an annual retreat, but I think it would help tremendously to schedule silent retreats more often—if not to this blessed place then somewhere else.  If not with this group of women, then with others, or alone.  Because the point is really not about where, or who or when, it’s about Who we meet, how we come to Him, and what we take from that meeting into the year ahead.

Have you ever participated in a silent retreat? Does not talking for three days and focusing on prayer and time with the Lord sound like a blessed relief or a challenge?

God’s blessings for you today,

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  • Hi, Cathy
    Thank you for this post.
    As far as I am concerned, silent retreats are one of life’s luxuries. I have been attending them for years, of many different durations and locations.
    On one of my first week-long ventures, I felt very selfish taking all that time for myself. When I mentioned that to my Director, I was taken aback when she said on the contrary, it was a very unselfish act. That was one of the most empowering things I’ve ever learned.
    Your post has heightened my interest in finding a current quiet sanctuary.

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      Your director was truly insightful, Patricia. “Empowering” is the perfect word for her affirmation. That time of solitude and prayer is revitalizing. I hope you find the perfect quiet sanctuary!

      God’s blessings for you!

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