As you know, right now I’m in Tucson, Arizona participating in the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction. While it’s certainly a training program, it’s got the retreat vibe written all over it, and I’ve been so ready for such a time as this.
It seems to me that however hard we try to live with intention in our daily lives, chaos is always finds a way to creep (or crash) in. It’s just a fact of life, and accepting it is a practice in itself. Sometimes practicing intention in our daily lives means stepping away from them for a few days in the form of retreat—a time away simply devoted to going deeper with God and our true selves.
For today’s travel tip, I’ve rounded up some suggestions on what to pack for a retreat to help foster an intentional time away:
1. items to create a sacred space
Bring a favorite scented candle or something else to make the space you’ll be occupying for the next few days your own and remind you of the Sacred. (While we’re on the subject, don’t tell them I have this candle.) You could also bring an icon or a print of an inspiring image. Find a special place for the items once you arrive and treat it like a make-shift altar—an expression of your desires for your time away and a space that you add things to as your journey continues (stones or feathers gathered on a walk, perhaps?).
For some, this might mean music. Others might be inspired by images, as mentioned above. Me? I’m forever inspired by words. If you’ve got room, bring along some of your favorite books of poetry and prayers, ready for the moments when you need some extra guidance. If you don’t have room for extra books, consider taking some of your favorite passages and making your own personal liturgy.
3. something to write with
Pens are both necessary and easy to forget, which is why I’m including them here even though they’re more on the practical side. I always bring plenty with me and often bring different colors just in case I want to add a little depth to my exploration. If you want to get wild, bring a pack of colored pencils! (Perhaps I’m asking too much of you—I get carried away sometimes….)
4. a journal
Unless you’re doing a silent retreat sans words of all sorts, I consider a journal a must (if you are giving up words during your time, you might like to read about my own experience). Choose one especially for the occasion, serving as symbolism for the intention you’re putting into your time away. (Plus, you totally deserve it!)
5. things to create with
A retreat is the perfect time to tap into your creativity. Bringing creative tools with you on your retreat gives you the opportunity to journey beyond words. Perhaps the clicking of knitting needles comforts you with its Sacred rhythm or the blank canvas invites you to explore the depths or your soul and fill the page with what you discover. Choose something that you love, but consider trying something new, too. If you feel a bit timid on the creative front, cut out images from magazines that capture your attention (both in positive and negative ways) and make a collage. Here’s a tip: check your left brain at the door.
6. something comforting
This could be a blanket, your coziest pair of slippers, or your go-to mug and your favorite hot tea. If you’re going on retreat to draw closer to God and your true self, then why not start with the things that bring your true self delight? In the end, I’m learning that the ultimate fruit of time away on retreat is learning to simply be—with ourselves and with God—and learning to love ourselves as God created us is truly something to be celebrated.
What would you add to this list?
I’m linking up today with other bloggers around the blogosphere about living more slowly and with intention in celebration of Tsh Oxenreider’s new book, Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, out today. Read the rest of the posts in the linkup here.