Become Your Own Counselor Part 2: Discovering Your Own Retreat Spot

When my best friend turned 40, our Bible Study group gave her an unconventional present, but one that I feel was divinely inspired. On the given week, she was told to pack a couple of bags and take only weekend clothes, food and books. She had no idea where she was headed.

I dropped her off at the Stone House down by the farm buildings at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey. I took the clock off the wall, put it in the closet and told her to hand over her watch, stationary and address book. I left her on Monday and told her I’d see her in 4 days.

She named the black and white calf, Gracey because of the experience of God's grace during her unaccustomed solitude.

What am I supposed to do? She asked.

Anything except take care of other people…maybe learn how to be still, I replied. I can be so tactful. She spent the time with the calves, sitting at the bench above the fields watching the birds and praying or reading.

Find a private retreat spot away from home and reserve it for a few days. Google it. Find a place that allows you to be reclusive and makes you feel peaceful. I know I’ve found a good spot for me when I feel like breathing deeply. You can breathe freely in the right setting. You’ll know. Though I’ve used motel rooms in a pinch, I prefer rural settings with walking paths such as OLM or Prairiewoods.

Now prepare:

Comfort Food Round up snacks, finger food and some easy prep food. Most retreat spaces provide a microwave and frig. Unless cooking is like therapy for you, don’t. Maybe prepare ahead and freeze it. Green apples, cheese and peanut butter are my staples. Don’t be distracted by hunger. This is not your diet week.

Get a journal. If you don’t like to write, then buy a small digital recorder. It’s important to record what you think, what you question, what you learn. Saying things aloud or writing them down is therapeutic. Wisdom will come your way. Capture it. After all, the point is to become your own counselor. These are your tools.

Gat an escapism magazine or a book. You need to relax as well as think and pray while learning to be your own counselor.

Seek a Support Person You might want to make a daily call to someone who supports your retreat objectives while you are gone. If you have that kind of person in your life, you are already blessed. If not, you can start your prayer list with a request for one.

Comfortable clothes, pillow and security blanket. I took whatever I’d need so that I could be comfortable and that has included a reclining lawn chair, lounging pillows, blankets and a favorite stuffed animal to sleep with. Don’t have the stuffed animal? Write it off with the new journal, expensive pen and lodging. It’s a legitimate expense.

Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. ~AA p 79