Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 31, 2002
A time for union with God
Lazy, hazy days of summer provide mood for annual retreat
By RENATO GANDIA
"I was entering into a kind of silence that I had never experienced before."
- Helen Gledhow
She attended one a long time ago. Having that many days of silence and solitude helped her slow down and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
"You get your heart quiet so you hear what God is saying to you," she said.
Gledhow has been attending a silent retreat for 15 years. She began doing this after experiencing a parish-wide private directed retreat, which people did in their own homes.
It was a parish initiative guided by Msgr. Don MacDonald and Sister Frances MacDougall.
"It was such an incredible experience for me. First, I didn't know what to expect. I just went in open-minded to see how this can really work in my life."
She admitted it was a challenge at first to quiet herself, given that she had children at home.
"After that I thought, if there is ever an opportunity and a possibility for me to experience this again, I would like to do it."
What is important for Gledhow is having quality time with God.
"I can celebrate in a quiet way with the Lord, my understanding and belief that God is alive and very much at work in my life, in the lives of my children and family and with the people around me."
She has come a long way. When she first went on a silent retreat, she experienced many distractions.
"I was entering into a kind of silence that I had never experienced before and a relationship with the Lord that I had never experienced before because it was such an intense one."
But she is one person who does not give up the challenge. She persevered and now is able to enter into the stillness of being with God.
"You get your heart quiet so you hear what God is saying to you."
- Linda MacIsaac
Richardson, who is youth minister in Calgary's St. Luke's Parish, finds going on a retreat valuable to her ministry.
"I take a week and just step back, get a new perspective on who I am in the eyes of God and how my spiritual journey is going."
Last year, she went on a retreat after attending World Youth Day in Toronto, to reflect on her experience.
She has had both good and bad experiences. The retreat she took at Star of the North was great.
"I find it very peaceful there. The space was very good and I was very lucky with the spiritual directors that I've had."
In another place she went, she developed a terrible allergy. Even after taking antihistamines, she was sneezing all night and day.
"The director I had . . . we were not connecting, that made it difficult. I found it a very difficult retreat."
Because of this she suggests, "It's important to know the facilities ahead of time and to know what you need from the spiritual director."
She insisted that it is good to let the retreat house know "where you are spiritually so that they can team you up with someone who has the same spirituality."
Trying to get into it, in terms of not worrying too much about what is happening in the outside world is also helpful, she said.
When Landry goes on retreat, she takes some things that she can work on quietly like embroidery, knitting or even drawing.
But those are side activities as her main priority is prayer, reflection and spiritual reading.
She recommends always having a spiritual director. "For me it helps to have a director, because you talk things out. For me it helps me go a little bit deeper in my reflection because just talking out to someone helps me see more clearly."
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