This year’s retreat will be organized & hosted by Terra Nova Saratoga at Christ the King Spiritual Center in Greenwhich, NY. Registration opens July 18, 2021 and continues through September 10, 2021, as space is available. If you have any questions, please email Amber Jacobi. Click here to register and for more details.
What is Retreat?
“But I have calmed and quieted my soul”
Often times, we hear this word retreat and an image comes to mind: for some, the image of a conference and teachings; for others, a time spent with sisters in the Lord for a weekend; and for still others, perhaps a hectic time taken away from duties and responsibilities, that may or may not feel restful by the end. We consider retreat through the lens of our prior experiences of activities and programs. These things can be good, but they are not necessarily what a retreat always should or could be. Retreat for the women of Terra Nova Saratoga looks to follow Jesus’ command to His disciples of retreat through withdrawal and rest ; we hope to reclaim retreat as a spiritual practice, as a vital part of each Christian woman’s life and walk, modeled by Jesus and many others throughout the Bible and church history.
“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while”
Retreat – true retreat- is a spiritual practice. In her book Invitation to Retreat, spiritual director Ruth Haley Barton says:
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, as Emilie Griffin puts it, “a generous commitment to our friendship with God.” The emphasis is on the words extended and generous. Truth is, we are not always generous with ourselves where God is concerned. Many of us have done well to incorporate regular times of solitude and silence into the rhythm of our ordinary lives, which means we’ve gotten pretty good at giving God twenty minutes here and half an hour there […]
To fully reclaim retreat as a practice that will open us to God…we will consider the meaning of a military retreat (otherwise known as “strategic withdrawal”) for our own lives—putting distance between ourselves and the battle line, wherever that line is drawn in our lives right now. We will hear God’s invitation to rest and learn what we must relinquish in order to do that. We will experience rhythms that replenish us—body, mind, and soul. We will practice recognizing and responding to the presence of God through discernment, and recalibrate based on what God is saying to our souls. We will feel ourselves drawn to reengage our lives in the company of others from a more rested place and establish regular patterns of returning and resting in God. (Barton, 2018, pp 4-7)
There is a unique difference between a time of retreat – strategic withdrawal – and what many may view as daily quiet time alone with the Lord. Retreat allows us to take an extended time to let the waters of our lives settle: to let the murkiness that naturally occurs in the fast-paced movement of our day-to-day rhythms sit long enough that we are able to clearly distinguish the silt from the clear water, the chaos from the calm movement, the quick requests and prayers from the distinct voice of God heard with a discerning spirit. Come away with us to let the silt settle as we rest actively before our Lord.
Rest : Body, Mind, and Soul
Seeing ourselves as humans first and meeting the needs of our bodies is important. When was the last time each of us stopped and took inventory of how we are functioning physically? Are we rested, are we operating out of exhaustion, or somewhere in between? What about our minds? Are they filled with a nonstop flow of thoughts, always considering the “what’s next,” “what if,” and “what about” parts of life that come with the ins and outs of work, home, family, and community life? When did we last consider our souls: the eternal part of our being that exists before the throne of God, ministered to by the Holy Spirit and in need of attention and care just as much as our physical bodies? When have we last just gone to a place to just be as a person?
When we approach retreat, we are not talking about distracting ourselves from daily life, vegging out, or crash landing into a time of numbness as we come out of the week, month, year, or season of life in which we find ourselves. We are looking to rest, but in an active way. Our spirits can rest in a way that is more than just unplugging or disengaging; they can rest in ways that reclaim and allow the Lord to redeem this time of withdrawal in order to generously give of ourselves to Him. We must retell the story to ourselves of retreat: its necessity, and the time we can use to hear from God; we must listen for the stirring of the Holy Spirit for the invitation to truly and actively rest in Him.
“Therefore I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. . . There she shall respond as in the days of her youth”
Retreating is an intentional, crucial time for us to steal away and practice stillness before the Lord, listening to the Spirit, and making space to be truthful in a unique way with God about what we need as pilgrims at this moment in our walks. We need to give time generously to hear from the Lord about each of the things we bring to him in honesty, and we need to allow ourselves to take inventory of how the Lord is working and where He is moving in us and prompting us to take action.
Your Invitation to Retreat
We recognize the idea of retreat holds different connotations, implications, and expectations for each of us. We know the struggle it can be to want to go to a retreat, to leave family, to sleep somewhere different, to leave work, or even to risk being alone with ourselves and the Lord. The greatest challenge often presents itself in overcoming these initial reservations. However, we also know with certainty that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Even in the midst of what may feel hard, whether a season of life or simply the idea of leaving to retreat, the Lord is working! Will you come away with us, to a quiet place, to rest and be still before the throne of God? Will you join us as we make space to discern the word of the Lord for each of us? Will you strategically withdraw from the ordinary of daily life in order to experience the extraordinary in the presence of our King?
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength…Therefore, the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you”
Isaiah 30:15, 18
Further Thoughts and Resources:
There are several resources available that the retreat team used to help in setting the framework, that could help in preparing your heart and mind as you enter the retreat. We highly encourage women to read the first book listed (Invitation to Retreat) ahead of time. It contains several very useful sets of questions and information that captures the heart of this year’s time away. Other helpful resources are also listed below: