The Un-Spiritual Retreat

December 19, 2013

How’s everyone doing, y’all doing alright?

One week until Christmas, anyone becoming undone?

No? Good, I’m glad. I, am on vacation, and am slightly delirious about it. I hit a low point last week, in which I physically emitted a deep groan in response to life. Nothing major, just reached the brink of sanity and needing a break from adult life. No more groceries, no more laundry, no more cooking, no more children-tending, no more work, no more deadlines, no more…responsibilities.

Of course this is what vacation is for and I have gloriously arrived. We have plans for a short family vacation trip leaving on Christmas day so lots to look forward to. Having ten years of parenting experience under my belt, I have learned to always plan a vacation after vacation, just for myself. Traveling, with kids in tow, is never restful. This year, my PVV (post vacation vacation) will take place at a beach with some friends. I am calling it an un-spiritual retreat.

Has anyone done a scheduled retreat before? I find the concept of a scheduled retreat an oxymoron. The point of retreat is to escape from schedule. When I sent out the invite for my friends to join me in my un-spiritual retreat I made sure to include the agenda, which was NO AGENDA. Here’s what I am hoping my un-spiritual retreat will look like:

Conference Speaker:

Um, there will be none. I am getting tired of obsessive celebrity culture within wider society and inside Christian culture. It is a good thing to learn wisdom from others in community, but wisdom doesn’t always come from the one up on stage, or the one with published works, or the one with the most twitter followers. Sometimes the most profound wisdom I have found in people who don’t know what twitter is. No, we will not host a speaker, we will listen and learn among all of us.

The best part is, it won’t cost us a penny, yet we will walk away richer.

Scheduled sharing time: 

There will not be one. (You may begin to see a pattern here.) Nobody will be forced to speak unless they want to. The loud ones will speak (that’s me), the opinionated ones will opine (again, me), the quiet ones will listen, the teacher will teach, the crier will cry, the bitter will rage, the sarcastic will sneer, and at times we may all talk over each other. And that will be just fine. At the un-spiritual retreat, both God-talk and authentic cursing are permissible. Pretense is not.

Prayer time:

You guessed it! No prayer circles at the un-spiritual retreat. Unless whatever follows an OMG counts as prayer. Prayer comes in many forms. We will be exercising the spontaneous kinds. The ones in the form of empathetic listening and soul bearing conversations. Prayers that say, “I’m sorry, that sucks.” Prayers through tears, laughter, and “you’ve gotta be kidding-s”. Prayers that don’t necessarily start with Dear Lords nor end with Amens, but are whispered, breathed with true joy and love. Who knows, the sci fi nerds among us may want to try, “so say we all.”


You mean hanging out? Yeah, we’ll do that.


I…don’t play guitar, and mikes cost rental money. We might walk on the beach and worship with sand between our toes, to the rhythms of the crashing waves. We may raise our hands to feel the ocean breeze. We may sing hallelujah or simply say, “wow” at sunset. Perhaps, when we leave the demands of responsibilities and life behind us for the day, we may finally quiet the noises enough to hear God speak.

But if not, we will settle for the sounds of those crashing waves.