Category Archives: Perspective

The Springs Silent Retreat – Walking, Drawing, Reading – Part Two

I spent the first day of silent retreat settling my brain and body. Unplugging from all electronic devices felt freeing. So many hours filled with contemplation and simpler activities were like water for my thirsty soul.

 

Walking

A workday’s worth of solitude and silence was like an oasis in the desert. I walked several miles, ate lunch in a meadow (a golden meadow because it’s been a hot and dry summer here in Central California). I was alone and it was sunny and quiet.

As I left my picnic spot and looked back at the oak tree whose shadow I’d sat underneath, I saw a tiny oak tree in its shadow. It was the perfect picture of how I felt that day, covered in God’s love and grace. When I got back to my room, I filled more pages in my journal with words and drawings.

Drawing

I love to doodle. It’s stress relieving for me. The session called “Quilt Making” provided the familiar experience of having crayons, colored pencils, and markers in my hand. We were to draw something representing significant memories. The leader shared a reading that inspired us to remember the good things in life. When our drawings were complete, we hung them together, seamed like a lovely quilt of hand-drawn memories.

Reading

As you know, I love to read. While packing for the retreat I wrestled over which books to take with me. Ultimately, I decided not to take any, which felt really weird – I never leave home without a book.

However, I borrowed “Life of the Beloved” by Henri Nouwen from the lending library and read it in a day. In true Nouwen style, a contemplative read and suitable addition to my silent retreat experience.

Going Home

Like a missionary returning to home after traveling abroad, it was overwhelming to turn my cellphone on and see the numbers in red bubbles indicating missed text messages, emails, and social media posts. I returned home just days before the 2016 Presidential election and all that noise, too. I realized that I could better control how invasive technology is in my life by creating time frames and boundaries. The first being little to no usage on Sundays and only during specific times during other days.

I know it’s challenging to find peace, solitude and silence in the day-to-day. At least once a year, if not more often, it’s good to unplug, move “off-the-grid,” and find some solace. The mind and body need that down time to function more efficiently.

Have you ever been on a silent retreat? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience. I’m looking forward to The Springs silent retreat next year, you’re welcome to join me.

 

The Springs Silent Retreat – Sleeping and Journaling – Part One

I’ve certainly heard enough noise about politics, before and since Election Day. How about you? Today on the blog I’m sharing my silent retreat experience.

The Springs

These silent retreats are offered twice a year and the ladies of NEWIM are experts at planning the perfect environment for attendees to have a unique and individual experience. I wasn’t seeking specific answers or direction, but rather affirmation and peace during this retreat.

Stress causes me to draw my shoulders up towards my ears, which creates knots in my upper back and neck. They’ve been multiplying for weeks and I needed to be unknotted. So I sought some relaxation and relief from the pain in my neck, literally.

Sleeping

Sleep had been evasive for some time, which contributed to the cluster of knots that had me wrapped up. Too many thoughts buzzing around in my mind, I struggled to shut it off. I needed to get away. Have you ever felt that way? Like the world needs to just stop spinning so you can jump off? All the noise can send you straight to Crazytown. Perhaps you just need to get away, even for a few hours to just unwind. Start with a nap. That’s what I did.

The first few hours of silence on the first day I needed to relax. I hadn’t planned to nap, but while flat on my back listening to the rhythm of my breathing, I drifted off to sleep. That snooze was just what I needed.

Journaling

With the knots unraveled, I could focus my thoughts. I spent some time writing with a pen in a journal that evening. I haven’t done this for months. I tend to do my journaling on the laptop now because I can type faster than I can write.

There was something nostalgic about having pen in hand and letting my thoughts flow through it onto the pages. I miss that tangible practice of journaling and plan to write more frequently with my favorite pens.

I’ll tell you more about the silent retreat in my next blog post. Until then, find a few moments, you might set a timer for 5, 15, or 30 minutes to just do nothing. Then pay attention to how you feel, think, and view life. See you here next time!

Silence

Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still. Psalm 4:4 (NASB)

What a rare commodity silence is in today’s society. I can’t think of one place I’ve ever been that is completely silent. Sitting in my backyard is fairly quiet, with the exception of twittering birds and an occasional airplane overhead. Inside my house, there’s the hum of the refrigerator or ticking of the clock. In the mountains, I hear the wind rustle through the trees. I find a deep sense of peace on the seashore despite the violent crashing of waves upon the sand.

True silence is indeed scarce. The sense of silence I enjoy most is when I can settle my mind enough to hear the whispers of God. I experience a deep and fulfilling encounter with my God. I find hope, peace, joy, wisdom and incomparable blessing, which strengthens my faith and centers me.

Mother Theresa said, “We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature, [the] trees, flowers, grass, grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

*This is an excerpt from “Dashes of Salt” a devotional book by Kim Bagato. To purchase a signed copy, contact Kim here.

How do you love yourself? – Part One

What do you enjoy doing?

On a crisp fall morning, a young woman sat down in my office. She was struggling in her marriage and wanted to learn how to help her husband. She wanted him to be different and break free from an addiction. Their kids were driving her bonkers. She worked full-time and was doing everything she could to love and care for her family. But she had lost herself.

To help her reconnect with herself, I asked, “What do you enjoy doing?” She replied, “I like going to my kids’ soccer games and making lunch for my husband and kids every morning.”

I repeated the question, clarifying that her answer would be something she enjoyed separate from serving her family. She was baffled. What did she enjoy doing? I hoped to get her thinking about how she loved herself and practiced good self-care.

How do you love yourself?

Perhaps you’re like her. You spend your days (and nights) doing things for other people. With technology that’s easier to check email and work even when you’re not on the clock. Too often we put ourselves last on our “To Do” lists. For our good health and the benefit of those we serve, that must change.

The following text is a familiar commandment. Even if you don’t read your Bible often or at all, you’ve probably heard this one. You’ve probably heard that your priorities need to be in this order: God, others, self. I submit a challenge to that belief system based on my perspective of what Jesus said here. He commanded, yes, commanded, that we are to love God and others as we love ourselves.

An expert in the Mosaic Law asked Jesus,

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:36-39

I’d always understood this passage to mean that I was to love God first, others second, and myself last. I don’t see it that way anymore.  Jesus said we are to love ourselves and in the same way, love others and God. If that’s the case, I can best love others and God if I am loving myself. Not being selfish, there’s a big difference.

If I’m not really loving myself, how well am I loving others or God?

In the next blog post, I’ll share about how I personally responded to this most important commandment.

In the meantime, check out these related scriptures and think about ways you can begin loving yourself in healthier ways. It will change how you love others!

Leviticus 19:18Matthew 19:19Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:30-31Luke 10:27Romans 13:9Galatians 5:14James 2:8