Why we sometimes need a retreat…

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I’ve been pretty MIA on the blog front these days, so I’m sorry for those of you who keep checking up on me.

I just returned from the Biochemistry Departmental retreat with a big desire to write again, so here it goes.

Everyone needs a retreat.  What type of retreat might vary for each of us, but we all need one.  And then we need a retreat from our retreat. (Very much analogous to a vacation from your vacation, if you’re familiar.)

I just spent a single, exhausting night up in the mountains with a bunch of scientists.  My science brain was on the whole time.  So I feel tired, but oddly invigorated.  Perhaps it was listening to my advisor present my research in such a way that I was actually proud of the work I had done.  Perhaps it’s because I like solving problems.  But I think it really reminded me about how much I love science.  And I got the chance to feel those emotions again, without the pressure of research and career goals.

And as I was driving back with my thoughts, I cannot remember the last time I went on a personal retreat for my own faith.  Because sometimes it’s hard in this world to remember how much God loves us.  To actually feel His love.

And then I returned from the retreat to my usual day-to-day life – a one-year-old that won’t nap, work obligations, house cleaning, etc.  I realized that I wanted time to reflect on the retreat.  I wanted time to think about what I took away from it, what I learned, and how that will change my career directions.  But I didn’t have the time or the lifestyle for that.  So you’ll have to wait on that blog post.

How often does that happen?  We return from a retreat (or adoration, an awesome homily, workshop, talk, or whatever) with renewed desires, only to have our normal life take over.  The grand goals and emotions we had during the retreat take a back seat to our primary worldly obligations.  And it gets pushed aside.  The handouts that you were going to reread and reflect on end up in the pile of junk mail before getting recycled.  It becomes an afterthought.  Then it’s forgotten.

So how do we remember (or not forget)?

We go on another retreat.  We experience it again.  And again.  And again.

Until perhaps, we can recall the emotions of the retreat for moments during our lives.  At 3am, when a teething baby just won’t sleep, we can recall the utter peace we feel in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  When another experiment fails yet again, we can remember why we love science to begin with.

And if we don’t have that, it’s easy to get discouraged.  It’s easy to forget.

So we all need a bit of a retreat sometimes.  Maybe it’s just a few minutes for some people, maybe it’s a whole weekend for others.  But we should all find the time to feel renewed and reinvigorated.  Until the next retreat.

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