I have just completed week ten of the Open Door Retreat, a weekly group retreat based on the St Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.
It has been a spiritual rollercoaster; with ups and downs and some gravity defying moments in between. One thing is sure though, I've learned more about myself and my relationship with God than I ever would have believed possible.
So what are the benefits of retreat?
Why would I recommend that you go on retreat if you have the opportunity?
Making time in your diary for a retreat and associated daily prayer can seem impossible, I know! But if you manage to do so, you will be rewarded with time which gives clarity, insight and essentially more time.
You are listened to; by God, by the retreat leaders and by the other retreatants. At the same time you are able to listen to others, the leaders and to God Himself.
This is a fabulous gift of retreat, the strengthening of your prayer life. I was not looking forward to adding into my daily prayer an additional element for the retreat, but it has been amazingly liberating. I started with very segmented prayer but over ten weeks I have learned to pray more openly and generally and instinctively.
I expected a retreat to improve my relationship with God, and it has; but I did not expect such a positive change in my other relationships. I am more open to Mike about my faith, more open in prayer with Rachel, and more open to help from those who wish to support me.
The fifth benefit of retreat for me is learning; about myself, my belief system, my faith issues, my support structures, my weaknesses. It has been gentle and subtle, but looking back it has been real.
If you get offered the chance to go on retreat, do it. Don't hesitate.