Have you ever considered a solo retreat?
For years, I had heard of people taking time away by themselves for a solo retreat to spend time with God. Although it sounded intriguing, I put it off. How could I justify time away from my job, responsibilities and my family, simply to be alone? If I'm being honest, it even seemed selfish. Over the years, I have enjoyed annual women's retreats with my church and girlfriend getaways with my friends. The thought of adding another weekend away for "just me" didn't seem reasonable. I also didn't understand its importance.
Then life happened, and I hit a tough season. Between family issues, health challenges, and work woes, I was burnt out. I was done. My worn-out state manifested itself in sleepless nights, stress and tension, and one grumpy mood after another. One day, my husband said, "Why don't you go stay in a hotel for a night or two." And so I did. I booked a hotel, 30 minutes from home.
"If you don't come apart for awhile,
you will come apart after a while"
There are a variety of reasons why people get away by themselves. Some might include:
Recovery from a busy season
Making a big decision
Seeking God's wisdom
Reconnecting with joy
Growing deeper with God
For me personally, that first retreat was a necessary time to rest and let go.
One of the most challenging parts of a solo retreat is getting past the idea that you'll be bored, lonely or will have to orchestrate some epic spiritual experience. I love the way Ann Spangler says it:
"Let it be a time of quieting your soul in his presence, of hushing life's everyday demands. Spend the day walking a solitary beach, or hidden away at a retreat center or a friend's cottage or cabin. Take your Bible and a book of poetry .... If you're artistic, bring paint and art paper and commune with God through the pictures you create. Let it be a time of praising him, of telling him how much you love him, of thanking him for all the ways he has loved you. Don't try to have a great spiritual experience, just relax and let God know you want to be with him."
Ann Spangler is the author of
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study
There is no special formula on how to spend time on a solo retreat. If you're tired, then sleep. If you're in need of creative time for writing or painting, then do it. For me, that initial weekend, that maiden voyage was about rest and making space for Jesus to love me in my broken state. I cannot put into words what that felt like. His peace washed over me in a way that I had not experienced before.
Today I make a regular practice of getting away four times a year. Does it always happen? No. Life gets in the way sometimes, and that's okay. I've learned that it doesn't have to be fancy—a simple room at a monastery or house-sitting for a friend for the weekend work just fine.
Are you curious to know more about planning
your own personal retreat of solitude?
Get the FREE 5-Page Guide Here
Inside you'll find:
- 5 tips for planning your retreat
- How to choose a location
- What to pack
- A suggested book list
This personal reflection of solitude retreats was shared by Dianne Sivulka,
creator and owner of Travel on Purpose.