What can I expect during a typical retreat day?
We begin the day in community with an explanation of solitude options, prayer and slowing, a brief teaching related to the content for the day and scripture meditation. Then you will have the rest of the morning and after lunch on your own – either following one of the guided solitude experiences we will provide or following your own prompting from God for rest, a walk in creation or conversation and prayer with Him. We will end the day in community in a time of reflection regarding what God has done and what you experienced – what was challenging and what you noticed.
Do I need to bring my own food?
Nope…lunch, beverages (coffee, tea, soda, water) and snacks are provided through out the day. We cater a lunch of sandwiches and 3 salads, cookies, fruit, cheese and crackers. There is one salad that is gluten free along with the fruit, cheese, crackers. If you have any accommodations that need to be made for food, please let us know when you register. We will see what we can do to help. Snacks always include fruit, trail mix, crackers, breakfast bars and a little afternoon chocolate.
Will we eat lunch in silence?
Lunch will be available from 12:30-1:15 pm in the coffee room. You are welcome to come and go during that time. Our main meeting room will remain in silence but you can enjoy conversation in the coffee room. We always just tell people, decide before lunch what makes sense for you on that day.
We will pray before lunch at 12:30 in our meeting room.
Where can I go on campus?
Our main retreat room is in the Conference Center will be available all day and you are welcome to come and go from there and leave your belongings in that room. And of course you can walk the grounds, the path around the lake or just sit in a comfy chair outside.
Other buildings you can explore: main chapel, library, and living room and small chapel in the South Residence Hall. Please be respectful of others who are in silence as well.
Who else is on campus?
The Retreat Center has several groups each time we are here that we share the space with. Please be respectful of the gorgeous shared spaces.
What if I want a private room to myself during the day?
If you would like to have an overnight room or a room for the day you can call St. Mary’s directly to book that. People have found this a valuable addition to their experience. Call St. Mary’s registration desk to find out more and book a room at 847-566-8290.
What else should I consider bringing?
The basics we mentioned: bible, journal and comfortable walking shoes and weather-appropriate outerwear in case you want to take a walk on the beautiful property (and I think most of you will!) You may also want to bring an outdoor chair or blanket in case you want to find a spot outside to rest for a while. Of course that will all depend on the weather.
What should I NOT bring?
Technology: which would include laptops, iPads, cell phones (except for using them as a clock or camera to capture noticings of God!)
Work related items (this is not catch up time)
The large stack of books next to your bedside
Your children or pets
Is this for men and women?
This is for anyone, male or female, young or old, red, yellow, black or white, who loves Jesus and craves dedicated time away from the busyness and weariness of life to have a conversation with the Father.
What can I do to prepare myself?
You really just need to show up with an open heart, mind and body and expect God to show up. We always recommend that people begin the slowing and detachment process the minute they leave their home. Maybe turn off the car radio and cell phone as you drive. Begin to clear your mind and surrender your cares and to do list to God.
Is it hard to find?
Good question! It is a bit tricky once you get off the main road so I suggest following our detailed written description which you will get a few days before the retreat. Give yourself plenty of time. And realize that part of the day is exploring and sometimes that means losing your way a bit.
Should I register right away?
YES! We love knowing who is coming as soon as you know you can make it. Once you register we begin praying for your time. So there are advantages for registering early beyond just saving your spot.
Are there discounts available?
We always offer an EARLYBIRD rate of $20 off the registration fee if you register 4 weeks before the retreat day.
Can I buy a gift certificate for someone else?
Of course, what a great idea! You can go directly to the link here. We’ll then send you the gift certificate that you can print. Once the person decides their date, they can email us at email@example.com and we’ll send them a code to use for registration.
What if I need to cancel? Can I get my money back?
Full refund will be given for cancellations made 2 weeks prior to the event. Cancellations within the two week period will be refunded except for $50 non-refundable charge upon written request. Refunds within this two week window must be requested via email and include your mailing address.
How does silence in community work?
We believe doing silence in community is a beautiful hidden secret of doing solitude. There’s something about knowing you are not alone and others are also spending time with God that day. We always say let the others you run into during the day be literal physical “Jesus with skin on” reminders of God’s presence.
I’ve got some questions about if God will meet me in this space. Is that normal?
That is perfectly normal to wonder will God show up, what if nothing happens, how will I be able to make it through a whole day, how will I ever be able to make up for the lost time? We always say we know 2 things: God is here and you are loved. We don’t need to pray God there. He’s been there preparing the way and he will be there with you before, during and after. And we know he wants you to experience in a fresh way just how loved and beloved you are to him. Be expectant of those 2 things and anything else that happens is sheer gift and grace. We know that the fruit of the day will go far beyond the retreat day.
Should I do spiritual direction?
That is a personal choice. If you have not experienced it, this might be a good way to give it a try. If you are wondering what it is, check out the “Spiritual Direction” tab on the website.
What do you mean by “solitude?”
Dallas Willard says that practicing solitude with silence are the most important spiritual disciplines for people today. In our busy, noisy world we need to “unhook” and get away in order to be alone and be ourselves with our Lord. Solitude and silence make space — space in our souls and space in our lives — for God to do a deep work within us and through us in our relationships with others. The normal way to practice solitude and silence is get alone with God and to be silent in a quiet place for some hours or days. Perhaps you take a walk on a nature trail or sit beside a lake or a creek. Or a quiet spot in a park or your backyard may work well. Even a secluded chair inside — as long as all your communication and media devices are turned off!
The point of your time in solitude and silence is to spend time in conversation with God and not try to make anything happen. In solitude and silence you’re learning to stop doing, stop producing, stop pleasing people, stop entertaining yourself, stop obsessing and let God come alongside you and fill you with his thoughts and fill you with his abundant life.