Weekly Reflection – The Art of Retreating

07 June 2024

Very recently, I took a day’s retreat; in all honesty, it had been a long while since I actually had a retreat day and an even longer while since I took an overnight retreat, so I was due!

At the retreat, we were encouraged to reflect on the rule of St Benedict, particularly the very first word: ‘Listen’. Listening is second nature, so why take time to reflect on the art of listening?

Well, I know within my own role at the hospital, most of my time is taken up with listening, some of which I hope I do well and with intention, but truthfully there is also some listening which needs improvement.

Listening in the context of St Benedict is listening with our ear and our eyes open, we listen with both and it doesn’t come easily. When we truly listen, we give our tongue a rest; this can be hard because we inevitably want to chip in with our perspective or advice. This form of intentional listening leads to transformation and discipline.

We are encouraged to be obedient in listening; the Latin word for obedience is ‘Obaudire’, which translated, is to ‘listen thoroughly’; to listen to our communities, families, work colleagues with an open heart so people feel heard. Above all, to listen to God through our conscious, allowing the voice of our conscious to be heard. This is probably the hardest type of listening, as we strive to be authentic and listen truthfully without stirring our own narrative to something more palatable or respectable. Listening shines a spotlight on truth, and truth is not always easy to face. Therefore, it is probably intentional then, that at the very start of the rule of St Benedict we are asked to ‘Listen’.

At the end of my retreat, I felt more uncomfortable than when I started the day; I had faced the challenge of retreating and reflected on my own truth through listening. But, that is the art of retreating, to discover and to grow!

Revd Charlene

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