I just came back from a silent, directed retreat! It was my first time. Outside of dinner on Friday night and two meetings with my director (who, have I mentioned, is an angel) I was silent and loved it. At first it was hard not to be friendly, but then it was so lovely to not have to think of small talk, or to be able to sit and stare out the window without anyone wanting to know what's wrong. SO lovely. I hung out in my room a lot, which no one said was un-sociable, because no one cared, and if they did, they couldn't say so. An introvert's dreeeeeam.
I read three books, which I could almost have imagined that the authors met across time and space to write for me, for this weekend. Here's what I read:
Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, by Lauren Winner, of Girl Meets God (another great book). She talks about the middle time of faith, after the rosy glow of conversion wears off. She lost touch with God after a divorce and her mother's death, and while my crisis was of a different nature, I could relate to a lot of what she said. And, she writes like I write, or at least like I think, so she's fun and comforting to read. She's nerdy about faith in the same way I am. I really enjoyed it and did a lot of underlining.
The Personal Vocation: Transformation in Depth Through the Spiritual Exercises by Herbert Alphonso. I have never done the Spiritual Exercises, but heck, I might someday, and now I'm ahead of the game. He talks about defining God's revelation to you personally, and knowing your purpose through what you know about God. He's kind of folksy, but really got to the heart of what I was seeking this weekend.
Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen. My first Nouwen book. He wrote it specifically for someone, but it was so for me. He talks about reclaiming our role as the beloved that was ours even before we were born. He talks about being taken (chosen), blessed, broken, and given. Beautiful and moving. I found this one in the library at the retreat center, and considered stealing it. Instead I read it in one big gulp.
Before we even started I found this magazine in the library and read the article called "Feeling with God: Participation in Incarnation" by Allan Schnarr, Ph.D. and as boring as that sounds, it was life-changing. I want Allan Schnarr, Ph.D. to be my therapist. Wowsers.
If you ever get a chance to take a silent retreat, I recommend it. I'm feeling great peace and confidence that I was sorrily lacking before, and a renewed understanding of who I am to God, and what that means for my life. I don't know what will happen for you, but you'll never know until you try. I showed up there at 3:01, anxious to start, and today I wanted to run back to my life. I feel great and strong again. S'good.