The funny thing is that despite the anticipation, it often happens that the first days are a struggle to reach interior quiet. The not-talking is the easy part. Quieting my mind and spirit is something else entirely. So often, I get edgy and restless and annoyed that I can’t get into a prayerful frame of reference in my time frame. That’s the thing. There are two kinds of time: chronos, or the time that exists as subdivisions of our days, weeks, months, and years and Kairos, God’s time, the time in which the Spirit of God is at work in us. More often than not, the two times do not match up. On retreat, I see the days passing swiftly and effectively say to God: “You better hurry up. Time is ticking away and if something is going to happen, it better happen soon or retreat will be over.” In my best moments, I know that God can do what God wants to accomplish in me whenever God wants. “It,” whatever “it” is, can happen in an instant. So what’s there to worry about? In truth, nothing. But to get to that place of trusting the power of God working in me, doing more than I could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), I not only have to be externally quiet, I have to empty myself of my agenda, be still, and wait upon God. In God’s time, when I am open to God’s desires for me, God touches my heart. It may be that involves my letting go of pressuring myself, acting or thinking as if I am the one that does the transforming, or recognizing that God simply wants me to be in his presence, or to recognize that I am loved, as imperfect as I am.
The desires that we have for a deeper, richer, more trusting relationship with God are rooted in God’s desires for us. After all, Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel: “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” The fullness of which Jesus speaks, that I seek in my retreat and that many of us desire (though we may not name it) has nothing to do with money, possessions, status, power, or prestige. Rather, it is all about a deepening, intimate relationship with God, one that is nurtured by spending time alone with God, in quiet, in prayer, in love with the one who can make it happen.
Take your next step: Each day, find a quiet corner in your home or your garden. Spend ten minutes with God alone and ask God to draw you into a deeper relationship with him.