End of Year Impromptu Overnite Retreat at the Archabbey

On December 30 I was riding peacefully in the backseat during our drive home from seeing family in Lexington Kentucky. I commented that it felt a little strange that I did not visit Saint Meinrad monastery this year, because it was the only year I hadn’t gone since first retreating there in December of 2011. Does the streak come to an end after twelve consecutive annual treks? That’s when our eldest, Gabriela, spoke up authoritatively, “You should go tonite. Just do it.” Wise words indeed! I considered it for approximately 3.2 seconds, and then made the phone call to reserve a room for that very evening. And how glad I am that I did.

It was exquisite driving through ever thickening fog at nite time for the final twenty miles of the three hour trip to the monastery. And those last eight miles winding through forest and farms was especially, eerily delightful. Upon pulling in to the guesthouse parking lot, you don’t know my elation at seeing only three other cars there–this is going to be solitude indeed! Walking around the campus later that nite, it had an almost spooky vibe as there was no other human to be found. Was I in a haunted religious ghost town? Are the spirits of the saints hovering around me? Have I seen too many movies? Probably.

As usual when I’m at this beautiful place of abundant prayer, I had an incredible experience of focused gaze upon Yeshua, and was blessed to receive, quite clearly, several “downloads” from Holy Ruach. By the end of this short (20 hour) retreat, I was given five charges to ponder on the drive home. These were:

•Let go

•Forgive yourself

•Deny yourself


•Life of Prayer

Let me just break each of these down briefly.

Let go of the small annoyances in daily life. In light of turning 50 in December, it’s beyond time to cease allowing myself to be bogged down with those minor grievances that I have little to no control over, and which do not really inhibit me from living a full life. So what if my youngest daughter leaves her dishes in the basement? So what if I see someone throwing their cigarette butt on the ground? These (mostly) innocuous actions are not worthy of my extended attention and energy; they only serve to steal my focus from far better places where it more appropriately belongs.

Forgive yourself for the little screw-ups each day that are gonna happen because you’re human. Like Brother Lawrence, confess every mess-up immediately to our gracious Lord, repent when necessary, and move on as if it did not happen—just as our God does. The enemy loves it when we remain (abide) in a state of self-focused deprecation, instead of abiding in Christ.

Deny yourself…something! I’ll never forget the time the Spirit asked me, in a somewhat playful yet sobering manner, “You don’t deny yourself anything, do you?” Wow. Conviction. I really don’t deny myself. For the most part I do what I want when I want. It’s good for your soul to not give yourself everything you want. It strengthens you to limit yourself.

Write to encourage others with thoughts, reflections, and gleanings from Scripture and life. Even if for just a few others, it’s valuable. There’s something quite efficacious about purposefully coalescing your thoughts into a legible form for others, for it fosters a particular crystallization of seemingly disparate ideas into a cohesive whole which reorients one’s center of view to a healthier and more life-giving perspective.

A life of prayer is meant for you to be lived, particularly in those “in-between” moments of life, like when you’re doing those tasks you don’t really want to be doing, at the places you’d rather not be, or (like in “let go” above) seeing people commit those annoyances which so get under your skin. These are the times I have found it especially important to pray, and to use that time specifically to intercessionally pray for others. I start with my immediate family, then move outward to extended family and close friends, beginning by praying for general blessings over them, working my way to the more unique needs of each individual. This I have found extremely helpful towards getting me away from thinking of myself too much, or from my dislike of whatever current undesirable situation I might find myself in, and preserve me from falling into grumbling and complaining. Also, it helps people from far away.

This has been a more personal reflection, I know, but I pray there is something encouraging and useful here for you.

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