Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Retreats for Adults

Adult

 “I have long loved spaces that are quiet and apart . . .” So begins Fran Taber’s Pendle Hill pamphlet on personal retreats, Come Aside and Rest Awhile (see note 1, bottom of article). I sank into the living room sofa and relaxed into the cushions as Fran described her awareness of how important it is to have time for “retirement,” away from the stimulation of everyday life. But before I finished the first page, my ten-year-old daughter called me from the kitchen, needing help with her project on Olympic figure skating champion, Sarah Hughes. After finding our hole punch and helping Katie create holes for a shoelace in her poster board skate, I returned to Fran’s words concerning the “deep hunger in religious circles ecumenically for a deeper experience of silence and solitude.” Before I could turn the page, Katie needed my help again. Over the course of an hour and a half, my reading of Fran’s pamphlet was interposed many times with the “stimulation of everyday life” as I leapt up to find a long-enough shoelace, shake a silver pen that wasn’t working and recommend alternatives, find a permanent marker, and give Katie heartfelt praise for a job well done. By the time the evening was over, I had read only ten pages. Life is good, in its fullness. Life with family, friends and work is rich and rewarding. Yet I, too, love “spaces that are quiet and apart,” and times for stillness, reflection and prayer. Is your life and longing similar?
In this brief article, I want to explore several questions: Why do people need retreats? What are some elements that are often part of a good retreat? What are the positive outcomes that people experience from a good retreat? But first, there’s an even more basic question: What is a retreat? And finally, given the busyness of our daily lives, how can we find the time for “retirement” that will really refresh us?

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Contact FGC Religious Education at religiouseducation@fgcquaker.org