Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Midweek Meditation: "On the Paradox and Power of Retreats"

Here is an excerpt from "The Retreat Leader's Manual" that contains powerful lessons on why we go on retreats.


"Guiding retreats requires trust and faith because retreats are counter-intuitive to so many messages of mainstream consumer culture that seem to have soaked into our very pores. It will likely take encouragement, confidence, and positive support from you to motivate participants to welcome the seeming paradoxes of faith. Some of the unexpected invitations retreats offer are include: receiving by letting go, moving closer by being still, hearing through silence, advancing by retreat, acting on God's behalf by resting, learning community from solitude and strangers, going away to become more present, finding abundance in producing less, embracing yourself by reaching out, listening to the language of nature, leading by being a servant of all, honoring diversity through simplicity, and loving your enemies.

Retreat experiences, these 'places apart to be together,' welcome persons into what long time camp and retreat leader, Ted Witt, calls 'a change of pace, place, and face.' In other words, participants enter an alternative cadence of living, while venturing to less familiar surroundings and leaving behind many roles that give them a sense of predictability and comfort. That is fantastic! Be sensitive and caring, however, while simultaneously simulating chances for positive transformations within the newness and nuances inherent in journeying away.

Retreat experiences ask folks to launch from their harbors into the unknown that characterize any adventure. All this produces powerful potential. As people move through their initial uncertainty, it opens a host of new horizons. Biblical stories are full of persons who encountered God or gained greatly expanded awareness through new situations and excursions. You are part of offering that opportunity!" (Nancy Ferguson and Kevin Witt, The Retreat Leader's Manual, Nashville, TN: Discipleship Resources, 2006, p16-17)

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