Tomorrow we will be having our monthly retreat day. The idea of a retreat day for cloistered nuns may come as a surprise--aren't cloistered nuns on retreat all the time? Well, yes and no. Yes, in the sense that we live all the time in the silence and awareness of God that people who live in the world try to experience when they are on retreat. No, in the sense that in addition to our silence and times for personal and community prayer, we have a lot of work to do in order to keep the monastery running! So it helps to take a day once a month to step back from the busyness that even cloistered nuns can fall prey to and simply be with God.
In addition to our community retreat day, each sister is given the opportunity to take a private retreat day once a month (we call it a Moses day, referring to Moses' many times of withdrawal from the Israelite community in order to pray). Each sister also has a three day retreat around the anniversary of her profession of vows, and sisters who make it to their silver or golden jubilees get a whole 30 days of retreat! (They don't have to take it all at once...but they can!)
All these retreat days strengthen us as a community. They bring us closer together, because through our silence and solitude we are drawn closer to God. We remember how Jesus called his disciples to come away and rest for a while after their first attempts at spreading the good news. However, we also remember how he sent them back out to preach again after their time of retreat! In the same way, we return to our daily work and recreation on Monday, refreshed and ready to be a joyful community once again. A retreat can help anyone, in any state of life. Consider taking a day and turning off your phone, TV, computer, etc., and try just to listen to God. He speaks in the silence!