Quiet Day Retreat
By Cheryl Arnold
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16.
I’ve been on many retreats throughout the years with church youth groups, women’s groups, and school faculties, and once my entire church canceled Sunday services and went away to a camp for a weekend retreat. While all of these retreats offered fun activities, fellowship, worship, and inspiring speakers, they had packed schedules and shared housing. There was little or no space to spend quiet time alone with God.
A quiet day retreat offers a different kind of retreat experience. According to Dr. Ruth Haley Barton, “Retreat in the context of the spiritual life is an extended time apart for the purpose of being with God and giving God our full and undivided attention.” It is an opportunity to step away from the noise and distractions in our lives to hear God’s voice.
Many Episcopal churches will offer a quiet day retreat during Lent, which is a season of reflection, self-examination, penitence, and prayer. St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wilton, CT, explains, “It is an old Anglican tradition to set aside days and hours in particular seasons to listen and search for God. This is intended to be a departure from our regular lives—where we are busy, stretched too thin, unable to stop, surrounded by noise and chatter. We are constantly wrapped in sound, in the demands of the day, in plans for the future, in the little and big things that make life work. And sometimes because of these demands, we don't have a chance to pay enough attention to our physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental health. Sometimes we need to just push pause for a few minutes. And a Quiet Day (or in our case, Quiet Morning) is a chance to do just that. The Gospels tell us that even Jesus needed time away to recharge, to connect with God, to pray and to reflect. If Jesus, our great high Priest, the Teacher of the Way, the Healer, the Worker of wonders and miracles needed time, then why are we slow to admit that we also need time?”
In preparation for entering into Holy Week, Grace will offer a quiet day retreat on Saturday, April 9, from 9:00 a.m. until about 12:15 p.m. It will begin in the church with instructions, followed by silence from 9:15-11:30. Optional confession and counseling will be offered during that time. Participants are free to use various spaces on the Grace campus to read scripture, meditate, and pray, perhaps using the prayers, scripture readings, and reflection questions that will be provided at the retreat. At 11:30, participants will reconvene in the church to break silence and share how they encountered God during their quiet time. The retreat will conclude with a celebration of the Eucharist at noon.
A quiet day retreat may be new to you, as it was to me when I began attending Grace. While I had several friends back in Illinois who had adopted the spiritual practice of going off somewhere for a quiet day with God, I often felt that there were too many demands on my time to take extended time away, even if it was just for a morning. One of these friends shared with me a quote from Dallas Willard, who said, “If you don’t come apart for a while, you will come apart after a while.” She also gave me some books on silence and retreat written by Dr. Ruth Haley Barton, and I came to realize just how important it is to step into longer periods of silence in order to hear God’s voice. The Grace quiet day retreats have been deeply meaningful to me, and while I now take other quiet mornings or afternoons during the year, I love practicing silence as a church community and ending with communion. Come and join us for this special time.