I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. // Hosea 2:16
The first time I ever went on retreat, I was in the sixth grade. I went to a Catholic school and once a year, in the spring, they would bus the sixth graders to a Schoenstatt Sisters retreat center about twenty miles away situated on a little lake. I remember that day as “a beginning” of some kind.
Walking the grounds, praying as a group, working out our little sixth-grade reflections, I recognized for the first time in my life that it was something special to come away and seek the face of the Lord with such intentionality. And, that there was something sacred about creating an environment in which someone could seek the face of the Lord in this way. I was very drawn to it, even then. Though I might not have been able to articulate it at eleven years old, I understood, “retreat” was life-giving.
Today’s readings are favorites for retreat directors and the reasons for this are obvious. This is precisely what Jesus is doing when He “allures us” into the desert of retreat, to speak tenderly to our hearts. It is there that we “respond. . . as in the days of [our] youth” (Hosea 2:15).
This is what happens for us on retreat—just as it happened for the girl in Saint Matthew’s Gospel. Everyone thinks she’s dead, but the child cannot resist the allure of the Lord’s voice calling her to rise. We go on retreat for the exact same reason: to allow the Lord to touch any place in us which is dead that He may call us back to life.
If retreat is not a regular part of your spiritual disciplines, take that to prayer. Ask the Lord if there are ways that you might respond to His call to come away, to seek His face, and let Him revive your spirit. Today I will join you: let’s pray about committing to your next retreat some time in the next twelve months.
And on this Independence Day, we thank the Lord for religious freedom. God bless America and the whole world.Seek His face. // Liz Kelly Click To Tweet