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Have you ever been on retreat? If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s not from a military context, although there are some similarities. A Christian retreat usually involves getting away from all the responsibilities and distractions of “normal” daily life. It usually involves staying somewhere away from the business of the modern world, so retreat houses are often in rural and secluded places.
Clergy are encouraged to take an annual retreat and I like to do as I’m told, so I go away – but not somewhere rural and idyllic. I like to stay at a retreat house in East London. It may not sound like a retreat from being busy, but it works for me. In London I can visit art galleries and walk along the river, or spend time in one of the numerous great churches.
I’m on retreat as I write this, but not in London. I’m the chaplain for the pre-ordination retreat for the deacons who will be priested on Saturday. There are 24 of them to look after, so I don’t get a rest! Next week it’s the same for those being ordained deacon.
In the gospels we see Jesus going off to lonely places to make space to pray, and also taking the disciples away from the crowds so they could pray and rest too.
For me, a retreat isn’t about “finding myself” or being holy, but about rediscovering Jesus and ensuring that I remember that all my work is nothing without Him.
Having a retreat may be something not everyone can manage. But we can all chose to find time each day or week to pause, be still, and rejoice in Christ’s love for us.
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