For most of my adult life, I didn’t go on retreats. Oh, I had been to one as a requirement for my Confirmation and another one as a requirement for my marriage. I actually liked both of them. Why then, didn’t I ever take advantage of a retreat when the opportunity arose? Well, many reasons. One, I didn’t see the need. Two, I didn’t feel “holy” enough. Three, I didn’t have time for a retreat because I was too busy. Well, I have to say, I couldn’t have been more naïve and more wrong about retreats!
Despite my aversion to retreats, I decided to attend the Build the Faith Women’s Retreat in 2017. At the time, I was a Build the Faith volunteer and I actually went because I wanted to support my friend, Monica, and her work with Build the Faith. I even told myself that I was doing it for her! As it turned out, it was ALL for me.
How so? Well, for starters, the retreat was the nourishment my soul was longing for and I didn’t even know it. That’s the thing with retreats. We don’t think we need them, but we really do. There’s a common phrase nowadays that says: “You are what you eat.” If that is true, how are you feeding your soul? Before going on the Build the Faith retreat, I had never contemplated this question. The truth is, though, that our souls need to be cared for like the rest of our bodies. We do all kinds of things to keep our bodies and our minds healthy. Why is it that we don’t take the time to nurture our souls?
Luckily, caring for your soul doesn’t require a certain amount of “holiness.” Back in 2017, though I went to church every Sunday, I certainly did not consider myself “holy” enough to go on retreat. The thing about retreats, though, is that God and everyone there take you as you are. The “holier than thou” attitudes are left at the door and all are welcome. When we are on retreat, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and our souls grow in the process. Though I think I cried most of the weekend (which, I must admit, was embarrassing at times), I left the retreat feeling rejuvenated and joyful. It was a feeling I hadn’t experienced in a very long time. That’s because at the retreat I felt loved – both by God and by all of those who surrounded me that weekend (which, by the way, were mostly strangers when the weekend began.)
I couldn’t have been more glad that I had taken the time from my busy schedule to go on the retreat. It was fun to meet new people, share my faith and experiences, and be “unplugged” from the world. I made new friends and felt closer to God and more in touch with myself and my needs. For me, the retreat was transformative. It helped me to realize how truly blessed I was with the life I had and it turned out to be just what I needed to propel myself forward in my life.
I go on retreat every year now. If you have the opportunity to go on a retreat, take it. You’ll find it is so worth it!
Deb Egan grew up in a Catholic family. Throughout her adult life, she has participated as a church volunteer in many capacities, including teaching Religious Education, being a Eucharistic Minister and Lector, Ministering to the elderly and homebound, and Facilitating Small Faith Groups. She has been trained by Evangelical Catholic and became a member of the Build the Faith Team in April of 2017.