The Experience of Retreat

Right now, I am sitting in my room, looking out over the roof of a 1900’s monastery, and slightly more modern chapel, to the distant tree lined river and low hills of the Yarra Valley. Tarrawarra Abbey is a very serene and hidden away monastery of Cistercian monks, and is the perfect place for my long awaited for retreat from family, work and many other distractions.

But it almost didn’t happen. Men, fathers, you know how it goes. You think of a great plan, then something (or things) get in the way, so you push it back to the next available date. That happens once or twice, you put it off and then, 12 months later, you remember you were planning to do that……

Michelle has recently finished her ‘retreat’. Travelling to Sydney for Hillsong’s Colour conference was her choice for this years short break, and it was rewarding to have her return home, both refreshed and renewed for the coming months ahead. So aware of the refreshment she received was she that I was booked into two nights at Tarrawarra without a major discussion and sent me on my way!!

We are both big fans of taking time out from everything, including the family. The hardest thing is finding the time, and I don’t know why, because, whenever we commit to each of us taking time out, we always benefit individually and as a family.

A couple of key points we have learnt along the way:

1. Each person must find their own expression.
Although I said above that Michelle booked me in to the guesthouse at Tarrawarra and demanded I go, it didn’t exactly happen like that. I had been talking about the Cistercian abbey for some time, as my experience in Western Australia with the Benedictine Monastery at New Norcia had been of great refreshment and relaxation.

I don’t know if Michelle would get as much from a couple of days of solitude as I did, but the Colour Conference, surrounded by close friends really nailed it for her. This type of refreshment really has to be aligned with the individual’s expression at the time.

2. Going with the Flow is paramount.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of having things in my life happen ‘just so’. I reckon we’re all control freaks in a way, and its ironic that this need to control things can often limit the result of a retreat. In a setting like this more than just about any other, I’ve found that if I can let go and let God, then my experience will be what I need, instead of what I think should happen.

3. Don’t say ‘One Day’, that will never come
Once you’ve been on a retreat, it is so important to try and incorporate regular time out every year. You know the frequency that works for you and your family.

We all need down time and reflection time, which can only serve to benefit our families and those close to us.

We’d love to hear your experiences of retreat.

God Bless


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