I loved my retreat (Thursday to Sunday). It has been far too long. I told Sarah that I felt like something that had been dead or atrophied in me came alive again.
Sitting in the chapel with the monks while they sang the psalms and prayers was like water in the desert for me. I couldn't understand most of it, but they gave me an English prayer book. I thoroughly enjoyed praying the Psalms and reading the beautifully written Catholic prayers. It gave me such an appreciation of well written daily liturgy that I bought a copy of The Book of Common Prayer when I got home.
My spiritual director (of sorts) was Henri Nouwen. I spent much of the retreat reading his book The Road to Daybreak, journaling his journey of deciding to make his home at a L'Arch community for the handicapped, after teaching at Yale, Notre Dame, and Harvard. It was simple, yet beautiful and profound. One of the biggest things I gained from it was a desire to invest more deeply in my closest friends and to spend more time with God. Over all, I'll give it 4js.
On the bus ride home, I also read Nouwen's Heart Speaks to Heart. It was OK, but not great. I'll give it 3j's.
So what did I learn on my retreat? Well, over the next year or so, I want really focus on three things.
1. Spirituality - This retreat reminded me just how important it is for me to be deeply connected with God.
2. Hospitality - I want to make time to invest in the lives of my closest friends. I'm learning that for busy people, friendship is a discipline just like exercise or prayer time. I want to work from that base of "deep, lasting, faithful friendship" (a Nouwen phrase) to show hospitality to others.
3. Leadership Development - Hopefully, I'll be talking a lot more about this later, but for now, I just want to say that I'm beginning to understand that part of my calling here is to help develop other leaders (as a leader who is also learning how to lead).