27 May 2019

Cloisters on the Platte; finding clarity through a three-day Ignation silent retreat

I attended a three-day Ignatian silent retreat, along with 80 other women, at Cloisters on the Platte

In the stillness, clarity emerges
In the breath, answers reveal themselves
In between, there is peace

Distractions that come from all the noise in our lives makes it difficult to connect with God and find our purpose in life. A silent Ignatian retreat provides an opportunity to draw closer to him, gain perspective, and hear God's clear voice.

Such retreats draw on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, creating an opportunity and environment to pray and reflect over an extended weekend. A yearly exercise in faith that dates centuries, making a retreat helps you renew your relationship to God and discover newfound faith and clarity.

Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), Spanish theologian and founder of the Jesuits

Basic principle from Ignatius, for our spiritual lives: 
Trust that God speaks to his people and realize he has something to say to me.
Therefore, I must create moments of stillness and silence so I can listen and truly hear him!

Try to keep your soul always in peace and quiet,
always ready for whatever our Lord may wish to work in you.
~ Ignatius

The interior of the chapel at Cloisters where we had our various sessions

Wait in awe of God in every single moment.
Be attentive and be silent. You will be amazed.

Fall in love with Christ, and stay in love with him. 
It will affect everything.

When you ask God to help you meditate, 
many things will simply fall into place.

~ Tom Krettek, speaker for our retreat

Clockwise after me: Beth, Catherine, and Felecia

We four gals ended up coincidentally staying in the same lodge while at the retreat. We also coincidentally sat at the same table in the dining room for all of our delicious meals. We chatted and got acquainted at our first meal on Thursday evening... when we were still allowed to speak. A few weeks after the retreat ended, we all got together for dinner in Fort Calhoun... and talked and laughed. We anticipate being at the same retreat again next year!

Exterior of the chapel where our sessions were held

'Stations of the Cross' is a form of devotion originating in the 4th century, when Christians were first permitted to worship in the Roman Empire. At that time, pilgrims flooded to Jerusalem to pray along the same route that Jesus traveled from his sentencing to his crucifixion. That 2,500-foot path through the old city became known as Via Dolorosa, Latin for the 'Sorrowful Way'. In the 5th century, images of the key moments along Jesus' path were created. Those paintings and sculptures helped Christians who could not travel to the Holy Land be able to reflect on Jesus' last day and message.

At Cloisters on the Platte, there are 14 superbly done sculpture settings for ones viewing and contemplation. As you walk the path, you are drawn into the story and can reflect on the narrative provided through head-phones. When in Kenya, I often go to Resurrection Gardens in Nairobi, to view their Stations of the Cross. The ones at Cloisters have been so wonderfully crafted, and truly draw you into the various scenes of Christ's agony and sacrifice for us.

There is no escaping the unfolding brutality. At this particular station, guards bind Jesus to the cross and drive nails into his flesh. His cries of pain pierce our hearts; we want to run from this nightmare but feel compelled to stay close by him. Only then may we hear what Jesus struggles to say. "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do."

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If you've never done a retreat, I would heartily recommend you make time for one! There are a variety of options but if you choose Cloisters on the Platte in Nebraska, here's their website. If there's no space for the weekend that you prefer, you can opt to be put on the waiting list. The odds are good you might still get in.

During a 20-minute session with a spiritual adviser, and later as I sat still in my room and silently reflected on his comments, I gained clear direction about when my time will be to leave Kenya and come back to the US.

In that stillness, clarity truly emerged and I have peace!

The answers you seek never come when the mind is busy.
They come when the mind is still, when silence speaks loudest.
- Leon Brown, baseball player (born 1949)

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