Conversatio Divina

Part 16 of 18

Defining Our Terms

Spiritual Retreat

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

From page 66 of Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, ©2005 by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. Used with permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515, www.ivpress.comEach issue of Conversations is built around a theme from spiritual formation literature. In this issue our contributors are working with the subject of “Retreat.” While the editors invite a variety of voices to the table, we have come to believe it may be helpful to our readers if we offer some definitional clarity as an anchor point. We are delighted that InterVarsity Press has agreed to contribute this column, “Defining Our Terms.” The table below is taken from a book by one of their authors, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, titled Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us and on the two most prominent themes for this issue of Conversations.

Desire: To make space in my life for God alone
Definition: Retreats are specific and regular times apart for quietly listening to God and delighting in his company. Retreats remove us from the daily battle into times of refreshing, retooling, renewing, and unwinding.
Scripture: “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31, NIV)

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

“Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near.” (Zephaniah 1:7)
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the quiet waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2–3)

Practice Includes:
  • Having short times apart as well as extended times away with God
  • Detaching from productivity and doing, in order to be in the presence of God and attend to his voice alone
  • Having longer retreats of two to forty days
  • Spending one day a month at a retreat site for time with God
  • Withdrawing from life in order to see where your soul is in danger, to seek God’s help in reengaging in the battle
God-Given Fruit:
  • In the company of Jesus, being able to quiet the noise inside and out
  • Making space in your hectic schedule for the Lover of your soul
  • Developing the ability to hear the still, small voice of God
  • Freedom from the need to be seen and to produce
  • Resting in God
  • Ability to be, not just do