Annual Retreat: A Time to Stand and Stare

Annual Retreat: A Time to Stand and Stare

by Sr. Sheila Campbell MMM           Ireland            02.09.2023

fork in the road resized“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.” W.H. Davis

This has been one of those weeks – periods on inactivity, interspersed with period of frantic work and deadlines to be met. I had so many “balls in the air” that I lost count of them! No wonder so many things seemed to go wrong. The only thing that kept me sane was the thought that in a week or so I would be off for my annual retreat.

I was trying to explain to a friend where I was going and what I was doing. “What!” she exclaimed, “I wouldn’t want to be sitting around praying all day.” Well, I won’t be praying all day, but it made me think what a retreat is all about anyway. It is a precious time for us religious Sisters when we step aside for the daily routine and go back and tap into that original energy which drew us into this life so many years ago.

I suppose the nearest comparison for me is a honeymoon period. For the young couple it is not so much about the sightseeing or places they visit, but about being together and slowly discovering one another in whole new, different ways. A retreat is like that. It is a time to “be” with God. I don’t even have to formally pray so much. I can go for a long walk, enjoy nature, and enjoy God’s love and bounty in all that I see, hear and touch. I can just sit and let the sun bring me warmth, I can watch the rain falling and think of the fruitfulness it will bring the earth.

I stop all the usual “chit chat” of everyday life so that I can focus all my energy and direct my attention to God and discerning what God wants me to do at this stage of my life. As I am now in my mid-seventies, there is a lot of “repairs and renewals” going on, with new teeth, new glasses and hearing aids to be thought about. What is God’s message in all this? I am repairing myself for what? Who am I called to serve next year, and the year after until God calls me home?

Yes, I am looking forward to my retreat. As Davies would say, “A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”