Monday, July 12, 2010

Retreat Suggestions

A friend is off to her first 8-day silent retreat, and she asked me what she should take.  I thought others might be interested in what (slightly edited) occurred to me, and might have some ideas of their own:

A really good novel or two, not fluff but not War and Peace either, because you need some time immersed in something completely different.

A couple of prayer books if you have some that you like and you want to maybe impose a little order on yourself.

A beautiful new journal.

A camera, your knitting, art materials, whatever it is that you need for some playtime.

Extra pillows. I have never been to a retreat house that has adequate pillow resources.

Whatever you need for walking or yoga if you do those things.

A degree of openness and availabilty to the Spirit that is more than usual for you!

Anyone else? 

PS: I forgot: A swimming suit?  Longtime readers may remember the humor I found in the silent swimming in the much-appreciated pool at Guelph a few summer ago when it was in the 90s all week ~ and how it led to other thoughts on encountering God in silence.


  1. Robin - You suggested extra pillows when I went on the 30-day, and I never regretted putting them in!

    Definitely a swim suit. A water bottle if it will be hot. A mug (beating Stratoz to the punch!).

    And if possible - take a slow route there and home...

  2. I didn't know about this type of retreat till I started reading your blog. It always intrigues me so I enjoyed reading the list of what to take. I guess I imagined that you bring nothing, so I was pleasantly surprised to read that you do other things than simply sit in silence! (Silence is no longer as comfortable as it once was for me). Perhaps someday I will get to participate in one of these retreats. Right now I experience it through you.
    I also enjoyed all the camp posts. What a special place of memories for your family. Memory upon memory is there, and you have to be pleased that you gave so much goodness to your children in that place.

  3. Karen, you maybe recall that I tried an 8-day retreat 11 months after Josh died and I had to come home in the middle. The silence was absolutely oppressive. This past spring I had a really wonderful 3-day retreat -- close to home, only 2 nights away, and spending time each day with my regular director who has seen me through these past two years. As with everything else we do in our new lives, flexibility and creativity are essential.

  4. I am the blessed person heading out on retreat tomorrow. I had already packed a swimsuit just in case. I fly into Dulles and have rented a car. Michelle's advice clinches it...I am going to figure out a nice long ride through back roads to get from there to the retreat center. I found that I kept tearing up all afternoon as I ran the last errands before leaving. I am so grateful--there's a sense of joining a lot of other pilgrims on the journey. I had never expected to have that sense as I found the way to say "yes" to this retreat. I ask for your prayers; know that there will be many prayers of gratitude for you from me...Rosa

  5. Hmmm...if you can't take extra pillows, buy a couple en route!

    I think Michelle's advice is wonderful.

  6. I concur with all of this. I also always bring my computer - which is counter-intuitive - but I don't write in a journal, I write on my computer. I also have relished the opportunity to read blogs on my computer that I would otherwise not have the time or opportunity to read, do yoga from my DVD on my computer, and listen to music. (OK, so then it's not silent...but I like a little Yo Yo Ma added to my retreat time)....I'd really love to go away on a silent reatreat soon...

  7. I've never done more than a day without a night away . . . and it's been decades literally since I did that. I'm finding the varieties of activities you do quite interesting.

  8. Rosa - I know you've already left, but my prayers fly along those roads to you!

    And Robin, I can take no credit for that advice, I heard it first years ago from a lovely Jesuit who was directing me on an 8-day retreat....

    Mompriest -- I love taking Yo-Yo along on retreat :)