Instead of battling crowds on Black Friday, I did the exact opposite. I went away by myself for an extended retreat. I've been wanting and needing to do this for awhile, but other things just kept coming up and I pushed it off. Several days in advance, I told Eric that I really needed to schedule a retreat for that Friday.
A friend of mine was traveling for the holiday weekend, so I asked if I could use her apartment for my time away, and she graciously agreed. I filled my backpack with books, journal and food and walked to my destination. On the way there, I felt both a literal and figurative weight on my shoulders. My bag was full, to be sure, but I also could feel that many thoughts and emotions had been building up inside me. As soon as I closed the door to my "haven" behind me, I burst into tears.
I'd been so overwhelmed with all that was going on and I needed time and space to just be quiet and to breathe deeply. What a gift those hours were to me. I cried, I prayed, I took a little nap, I read and I wrote. I also prepared and ate a simple meal alone in delicious silence. And when the time was done, I walked home with a much lighter load.
I know that for many of us this is one of the busiest times of the year, and I am reminded of a book entitled Too Busy Not to Pray. For me, these retreats are even more necessary when I am most busy. They help re-focus me, and that's something I need on a regular basis. Can anyone else relate?
If you are considering taking a retreat sometime soon, which I highly encourage, I posted some things I've learned about retreating here.