My spiritual retreat

This is something that I just don’t remember hearing much about until recently in my Christian life (again, it may have been being preached to me but I missed it). The idea is to go away and really get alone with God. Sounds like a perfectly normal and good idea. Why haven’t I done it before?

Now I’ve certainly put aside time to “be with God” in the past. But I never went away by myself with nothing to do but be with God.

I’m wanting this article to be a bit of a report on what that experience was like, and also a report on the facilities where I stayed.

The experience on the retreat

Part of me balks at even writing the above header. Christianity isn’t about chasing experiences. But every Christian has experienced Christ. And I’d bet most Christians have certain experiences in their past which anchor their faith. God in his mercy does allow us to experience Him deeply.

When I went on the retreat, I took a Friday off from work and spent most of the day Friday, Friday night, and part of Saturday doing nothing but praying; reading the Bible; reading passages from My Utmost for His Highest, Morning and Evening, and Valley of Vision; and working on the “assignment” given to me by my pastor. It was just a wonderful time.

The thing that really stood out to me was the luxury of being unhurried. I was able to pray to God about a topic, and if I found my mind wandering I could take a break. Maybe take a 20 minute nap and get back to it again with more focus. I could get up and make some coffee while reading. I could go for a walk and talk with God. The wonderful pacing of the weekend just made me think, “Except for the fact that Vivian isn’t here, this is definitely the best vacation day I’ve ever taken.”

I really want to do this again, but with my wife along. I wouldn’t trade the alone time with God for anything, so I’m not talking about a “couples time with God” kind of getaway. Maybe it could be a getaway where we get up in the morning and separate until lunch. Then discuss what we’ve been doing, encourage each other, etc., and separate again until dinner. Then spend the evening together, talking, praying, etc.

If you’ve never done anything like this, take it from me: it is well worth the time and effort.

The accomodations where I stayed

As I indicated earlier, one purpose I’m hoping this article will serve is to inform others in my local church (and/or local area) about the accomodations where I stayed.



I stayed at the Mount St. Joseph Center in Wheeling West Virginia. An order of nuns lives there, and they provide a set of 10 guest rooms plus an “apartment” like room that has its own bath and a small kitchenette of sorts.



I stayed in the apartment, and found it to be both comfortable and sparse enough to be non-distracting. It actually has a television, but I never bothered with it.



One of the real niceties of this location is the grounds. You can go out for a prayer walk and really just enjoy God’s presence and be undistracted. One thing I found interesting is that they purposefully cut “trails” of sorts into the grass around the area so that you have a path to follow.

I took advantage of these “trails” several times during my stay there.

The nuns eat regular meals in a cafeteria style. You are welcome to join them for $5 per meal. It’s more convenient than having to pack and cook your own food, which removes another potential distraction.

But the main reason that I picked this location over others was that they claimed to have a “prayer labyrinth.” That sounded very interesting to me, but it turned out to be quite a bit different than what I had planned. I’m saving a discussion of prayer labyrinths for my next article, however.

I enjoyed this retreat immensely. I’m planning on taking another in six months time, and I’ll probably return to this retreat center.