Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Going (or not going) on a retreat

Over the holiday weekend I read an article on Rowland Croucher's site regarding the retreats he does with individuals. I baulked at the price of these - $1000AU - until I noticed that he doesn't take any of this money; it's sent onto a charity that works in both Victoria, Aus. and Thailand. You might still think $1000 is a lot of money for having six hours worth of a listening ear; it may depend on how much your spiritual health requires such an ear.

However, the price isn't really the interesting part of this article, which is divided up into several sections. Firstly, Rowland lays out an FAQ which gives answers to most of the questions you'd be likely to ask initially, and gives you an idea of the way in which the retreat is conducted. "Usually, the retreat lasts from late afternoon (about 4.30 pm, then a couple of hours over dinner) one day, and resumes about 9.30 to about noon the following day. Bring your walking shoes!" So it's not a long period of time, and it's definitely not silent. This is a talking/walking retreat - and you, as the retreatant, will do most of the talking. It's a spiritual health check-up, basically, which is not necessarily the same as having a spiritual advisor.

The second section of the article covers the 19 questions that might be covered during the retreat. Rowland helpfully provides these so that you can think about them yourself without necessarily visiting him. (Though obviously it would help to have someone else to think them through with.) Spending some time over a few weeks reflecting on these questions would help most people's spiritual health, I suspect, as long as they gave themselves some room to think about the 'answers.'

The third section is a moving story written by a woman who did the retreat at some point. She affirms Rowland's earlier comment that:
a lot of male problems go back to inadequate fathering or initiation into manhood. A lot of women's problems go back to their non-affirmation by fathers etc. There's a second 'story' on a different link.

The fourth section offers a spiritual audit not necessarily covering the same ground as the 19 questions. This would also be a good thing to use in terms of setting aside some time regularly to reflect on your spiritual health.

Print the 19 questions or the spiritual audit out - and take some time to use one or the other.

The photo by Jessica Charlesworth is entitled Two Men Walking Seriously, a great title in view of the subject matter in this post.

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