Getting alone with God for a day or more has been my habit for many years now. However, until last year, the longest I'd spent on private retreat was two days. I'd heard of people who went for longer, but I never could seem to manage it. However, nine months after my husband died I realized that I had not taken adequate time to grieve. I'd had good counseling and loving support from my church family. I'd read helpful books and literature. I'd taken short retreats. But I realized what I needed most was some extended time alone with my Father, so I made plans for five days of ocean, quiet, and time alone with Him.
searched the Internet and found The Spiritual Ministry Center in San Diego, CA. Run by nuns from the Society of the
Sacred Heart, this small center offered peaceful, reasonably priced
accommodations, optional spiritual direction, and a two-block walk to the
beach. It was just what I needed.
retreat was silent, except for daily conversations with the sisters and
occasional calls home to a prayer partner. I spent my days in prayer, walking
the beach, listening to God, remembering, journaling, letting go, grieving,
resting, and, as it turns out, dreaming.
expected to dream. My husband had been ill for 11 years and the demands of
caring for him, working, and raising our son virtually alone, had taken their
toll on whatever dreams I had once had. But one of the biggest surprises God
had for me during that intimate time with Him was to restore my ability to
desire and dream.
What do you really want? He asked me one day as waves
lapped around my ankles.
I have no clue, I told Him. But He persisted.
Over the days of that retreat, He continued to ask me the same question,
inviting me, even daring me to dream. Eventually something freed up in me and I
tentatively began writing. After a halting start, dreams began to flow—pages of
them. And something that had died in me God raised to new life.
those five days, the Holy Spirit proved to be a wonderful Counselor indeed. He
guided me through relinquishing what I’d lost through my husband’s sickness and
death and then filled those empty places with new dreams and hopes. In those
five days alone with Him, He truly did restore my soul.
now re-read my journal from that retreat. I am amazed. Many of the dreams I
risked expressing last November are being fulfilled! God is indeed giving me
the desires of my heart.
He is a
good Father. He gives us just what we need to love and trust Him—but for me, at
least, sometimes it requires some extended time with Him for a good, long