Since 2001, in November of every year, I have led the ordination retreats for the Anglican Diocese of Waikato.
Last night I began with the group who will be ordained this coming weekend.
We are here for “retreat”. If you looked up the word in a dictionary you would find it defined as a military expression: ‘to move back from the battle’.
At times life can feel like a battle. To step aside from these demands, and move into stillness and silence, is a welcome respite from daily routines and trials.
A ‘retreat’ might provide a happy escape from ‘ordinary life’.
However we are not here to escape in any sense of the word.
Certainly we are stepping back from our normal daily patterns. We are here in silence. There is no newspaper or radio or TV. No cell phones or computers for the retreatants. The group will spend these days without talking to anyone except me.
They are taking this dramatic step that they might step into a deeper reality. To do this, they make a decision to avoid any escape into what is less real.
This might initially be a challenging experience. But such a journey into reality with God is always rewarding. We realise that so many of the concerns, worries, demands and duties of each day are fraught with fantasy and escapism. When we encounter God we discover we have no need of pretense. God is ready to work with us as we are in this moment of reality.
Pray for us on these days.