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.

 

Thirty Things I’m Thankful For This Year

Super bloom in Death Valley – March 2016

I’m not on social media as much as in years past, but I’m there enough to have seen folks posting daily about things they’re thankful for in the month of November. Studies prove being grateful is good for our health.

I’m not great at doing daily things, like daily devotions, so I’ll just post my 30 days of thankfulness here, in no particular order (except from shortest in length to longest because I like how it looks on the screen).

  1. Lily
  2. Love
  3. Tony
  4. Jeans
  5. Toby
  6. Sleep
  7. Grace
  8. Loren
  9. Music
  10. Aaron
  11. Words
  12. Nature
  13. Marisa
  14. Lauren
  15. Amelia
  16. Hot tea
  17. Daisies
  18. My BFF
  19. Silence
  20. Cookies
  21. Michelle
  22. Freedom
  23. Laughter
  24. Eyeglasses
  25. Sunny days
  26. Long walks
  27. Frozen treats
  28. Dark Chocolate
  29. Meals with friends
  30. Hoodie sweatshirts

It’d be rude for me not to ask, so what are you thankful for this year?

Click this link to help get your gratitude glow on!

*Photos property of Kim Bagato and cannot be used without permission.

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.