It’s August already and the summer is flying by. In a few weeks I’ll be headed over to Lake Michigan for a week along the awesome shoreline. To quote those “Up North” people, it’s like the ocean without the salt. Maybe not quite, but I am looking forward to the physical and mental refreshment of the time away in the midst of God’s beautiful creation.
This week I decided to take a different kind of timeout—a time to refresh my soul. I took a few days for a personal retreat—three days to be alone with God. I have been resisting it for a while. I wondered, what would I DO, and what if God had nothing to say to me? These are certainly not uncommon fears, but they turned out to be useless, like most of my worries. I had three very happy days and came home with a new perspective and renewed gratitude for the many blessings God has given me.
The particular retreat house I went to was located about 100 yards from a major interstate highway. Behind the retreat house was 25 acres of park-like terrain, complete with gardens and a gazebo and (my favorite) gliding Adirondack chairs. I couldn’t see the highway, but could I ever hear it! It was loud and unrelenting. I found it odd to be in such a serene and peaceful setting and be bombarded with constant traffic noise. But I began to realize that it was not unlike my spiritual life. I often feel my life is racing along at 100 miles per hour and it is tough to find any peace. But like those hidden acres, there are spots of refreshment and renewal where we least expect them. We have to be open to them and take time to enjoy them. I could have missed the peace if I had chosen to focus on the traffic. Thank God I had the grace to take in the loveliness of the nature and the sweetness of God’s still, small voice. I came away refreshed and with a renewed decision to tune out the “traffic” that distracts me on every side and to tune in to the peace Jesus wants so much to give me.
Some good spiritual reading helps tune out the noise and focus on the beauty. One book I can recommend is Thirsting for God by Mother Teresa with Fr. Angelo Scolozzi. It’s full of simple words that bring peace and satisfy that thirst for spiritual refreshment.