How Do I Prepare for a Retreat?
Steps to plan a retreat:
- Often the most difficult yet most simple preparation is to make the commitment to schedule a date for a time of retreat to set aside the cares and concerns of your world.
- Decide if you want to set your own agenda or use one of several guides Venite provides. Hold any agenda lightly. The main purpose of your retreat is to rest and be open to God.
- Decide if you’d like to meet with a prayerful listener (spiritual director) and schedule that ahead of time (www.veniteministries.org/retreat).
- Make arrangements for reliable care for your children, dog, plants, and mail so you can focus on your retreat.
- Guard your retreat time. Plan on leaving projects, work, or homework, at home. It is best to leave behind all the things that occupy your everyday life.
- Pray. Ask God to start to quiet and calm the inside noises so you’ll be ready to hear God’s voice. Hand over family or work concerns to Jesus to hold while you are away.
Your retreat begins before you arrive at Venite. Enjoy the anticipation of this special time away with God. Know that God eagerly awaits you, no matter how you show up.
What Venite provides:
- The Venite retreat suite is furnished with a comfortable full-size bed, ADA bathroom with shower, towels, linens, a large cozy rocker recliner, fireplace, fan, and writing desk.
- You will be provided a basket of fruit, cheese, bread, instant oatmeal and chocolate. For your convenience, we have a microwave, small refrigerator, and Keurig machine for coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Besides the quaint coffee shop right next store, there are a variety of Minneapolis’ best restaurants within walking distance.
- Venite is smoke-free and pet-free
Items you may want to bring:
- Comfortable clothes for lounging and walking. There are walking and biking trails just three blocks away. You can bring your own bike and helmet, or you can rent a bike from a nearby “Nice Ride” station.
- Bible, pen, notebook or journal
- Personal items and medications
- Creative tools. You may want to experiment with using color pencils, markers, or paints to express your prayers. Knitting or crocheting can also be a form of relaxation and prayer.
- Any special foods you desire or require
What to expect:
Each retreat begins with a short orientation before entering into your time of rest and renewal. Allow yourself plenty of time to transition out of life routines and busyness.
Because your relationship with God is unique, every retreat will be different. You may experience a wide range of emotions as you embark on this adventure with God. You may experience some resistance with thoughts like,
“I don’t have time for this!”
“This is a luxury I shouldn’t be having.”
“I’m missing out on other things.”
“What if nothing happens?”
These thoughts are normal. Try to remember that this time is part of a holistic and healthy faith, and you will be a better person for attending to your soul in this way.
After a while it is normal to become restless or bored. Let your body and soul feel this restlessness. Allow anxieties and questions to surface. As they do, bring them to God in prayer. If may help to write these thoughts down as a way to release them. Try not to give into the temptation to “get busy.” Pray for insight. Take a leisurely walk. Perhaps read a passage of Scripture to help focus.
Expect to be tired. Nap, rest, relax. Then sleep some more. If you are feeling tired your body needs sleep. One of the most spiritual things we can do is turn the world over to God and sleep. He promises to bless us even when our head is on the pillow (Psalm 127:2).
Try to set aside expectations. Surrender the outcomes of your retreat to God. Don’t plan to do too much. Trust in the gentle, slow work of the Spirit.
Try to limit technology. This is a great time to “unplug” and feel the freedom of not being tied to your phone and emails.
One suggested rhythm for a retreat is to break your retreat time into “sittings” of perhaps ½ - 1 hour sessions of reading, Bible study, or prayer. Stop when you are no longer enjoying it. Break up sittings with a nap, a walk, a meal, drawing, knitting, or worship.
Take time for wonder. Wonder at the goodness of God and the gifts He gives. Wonder at the little things – the flower in bloom, the colorful leaf, the snowy beauty, the smile of a stranger, the smell of coffee, the joy of life.
Most of all, relax! This is time for you! Enjoy it! Trust that God is in this retreat - even if it feels dry and useless, know that something is happening. Don’t predetermine what can or cannot happen. Rest in God, turn your heart toward Him and know that you will be a little (or a lot) different because of your time away.