Last month I led my last retreat before my coming retirement at the end of the year. I realized I’ve been leading contemplative retreat for thirty years.
I didn’t really know what I was doing when I began contemplative retreats in the early 1990s at Pasadena Mennonite Church. I am grateful for the trust of the congregational leadership of Jim Brenneman, Ceci Lance, and Rod Stafford.
I had an intuitive sense of how I wanted to shape the retreats based on the books Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Bonhoeffer described periods of silence with periods of engagement, and this is the model I have used: periods of silence in community and periods of engagement (aka: “talking”) which enabled those uninitiated to silence to enter silence more comfortably. At various times I’ve included music and singing with varying degrees of effectiveness. (I still remember Molly and Tudor bursting out laughing at my awkward attempt to lead singing!)
I am grateful for the variety of retreats I’ve led, and the trust participants placed in me. A few were more head-oriented which takes me out of my comfort zone. And some retreats were more meaningful than others and I am okay with that.
I haven’t firmly shut the door to leading contemplative retreats in the future, but the door is closed for now. As I enter retirement I plan to rest, read (mostly novels), and move to Canada with Kevin in the late summer. After we’ve settled into our new lives perhaps I will consider leading retreats again.