Last weekend we hosted a BFR Local Overnight Retreat. It started with snowflakes dropping as the cold front was coming through, this set the pace for us to hunker in with God and tune in to our uniqueness in Him.
We ushered in the weekend with silence, prayer, warm fires, and contemplative prayers led by our leadership team and Spiritual Directors. We were reminded that God chose us and designed us uniquely with our joys and even our trials, all meant for us because He trusts us with them, and He knows how they weave in His Kingdom story. On retreat, we were able to quiet our souls so we could hear Him, be with Him, and even wrestle with Him in the quiet.
Silent retreats can feel intimidating, but really, they should be a place you can feel free to leave the masks and responsibilities you carry around and just be present. Nothing is expected from you, and our egos are humbled because our job is simply to quiet down and be with God. This is modeled after Jesus’s example when He would retreat alone to be with his father.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed,” Luke 5:16.
Some of us came into the weekend carrying grief over personal and deep losses, some looking for clarity, some discerning decisions, and some not knowing what they needed. We all were able to power down expectations and be with God, quietly, with no requirements needed.
A silent retreat strips you of your voice and your need to perform. This is where you come face to face with yourself, your mind, your thinking, your fear, your pain, and your God. Some wonder what they would even do in silence. The answer- nothing. You commune with God.
You come away to a place where the only noise is within your heart and you might find that you wrestle with it or that things catch up to you here that you have not had space to talk to God about. Silence offers us healing and restoration through the ultimate counselor, Christ. It sets down our striving and opens a chance to breathe deeply in the love and comfort of God.
Some found that comfort through walking the trails in creation, others by sitting around a warm fire with a cup of coffee, some through the wisdom shared in spiritual directions sessions or prayer practice teachings, some by Communion, and many by seeing the deer and wildlife that pranced through the grounds all weekend. Because our pace was slowed and our distractions eliminated, we could behold creation, be cared for, and just show up to see and feel God's goodness even if our hearts were aching.
At the end of the weekend, we were able to use our voices to share, which frankly felt odd! We shared how bizarre it was to feel so close to each other even without being able to talk to each other. There was a feeling of intimacy and safety within the group- enough to open up about what God revealed and some of the pains they came to face.
Here is an excerpt written by one of the women during the retreat that she shared with us:
The night falls, my hope waivers
Like the flickering end of a candle,
Yet I know you, my God
Have everything in Your hands
For even on the darkest night
The moon and the stars show who You are
Your power and glory are etched into the Earth
You are the God of provision and mercy
For though the ground shakes
And the grass withers beneath my feet
And pain is in pursuit
Quietly I hear you whisper
“It’s going to be okay”
So as the flames dance in the fire
So my soul will rejoice in You.
-By Gaby Ripley
I don't think any of us were quite ready to ease back into the real world after such a sacred experience. We each left with a snowflake to remember this time and our uniqueness in Christ. I am so grateful that this type of retreat brings people together to feel connected and comforted by God and each other in a way that requires zero from us, not even our voices. It is funny how a time like this could appear lonely, but it ends up being a place where you feel the most seen.