There is definitely something about going on retreat and just stopping, that gives you space. Space to be with God of course, but space to process too, space to think. Space for the thoughts that have been at the back of your mind to come, perhaps unwelcomed, to the fore. That’s always been my experience anyway and having just come back from a silent retreat this one was no different. I usually find there is a ‘break through moment’. Here’s some of what I wrote on this one…
Walking along I find myself weeping. I’m not really sure why. It started when someone walked into the room where I was sat, she just looked across and gave me a small smile.
Then going to lunch someone gave me an ‘are you ok’ mime. I felt I had to fight back tears, but why?
What were those thoughts fighting for freedom saying now? I really wasn’t sure but I knew I had to get out and give them some space.
The moment I left the building I could feel them coming. Stinging the eyes and burning the throat. As much as I tried to hold them in, they increased their threat.
They won, this time… perhaps they needed to.
I walked somewhat blindly down the lane, past houses and people, wishing for peace, space, freedom and finally the path turned past fields and woodland with not a soul in sight. Then they really made their presence known, gulping sobs, and heartfelt probing.
Lord what is this, why am I crying?
Then the reality of pain and love and desire and passion and anxiety all rolled into one.
I need you Lord. Where are you?
Here I am needing you, pleading for you.
I need this. I need you. I need more of you…
I stumble into the old chapel. Dark and musty, the light switch makes little impact on the murk. But here is a place dedicated to you, rebuilt after brokenness and disaster from love of you and a loved one.
I breathe in the atmosphere, and breathe you in. Years of church dust invades my nostrils, familiar, like home.
I fall to my knees before the altar, thoughts tumbling, not knowing what you are doing or saying. I see my breath before me in the cold January air that infects this place.
And then they come again, I feel the heat of my own pain stinging my cold face.
Facedown, Lord I ask, what is this?
I look up and there you are, above my head in carved wooden form. I am literally under your feet…
You are my refuge.
You are the reason I live.
O God you are my God.
Earnestly I seek you.
My soul thirsts for you…
My body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me.