By Carly Reiner
Over the weekend the Grace-on-the-Hill interns retreated to a monastery in Boston to rest and reflect and learn a little bit about the contemplative lifestyle. Immediately upon arrival I was overcome with a sense of rest and a desire to put my phone away and just be with myself and with God. So rarely do we make time to just be. So rarely do we rid ourselves of the constant distractions of our daily lives in order to turn inward and wrestle with the things turning within our hearts and souls.
Our days consisted of prayer three times a day and the rest of the time was left up to us- to be in silence, to read, to pray, to go for walks, etc. At first this was very peaceful and relaxing, but the more time I spent reflecting internally the more restless and anxious I became. The more time I had to think and pray about the things that were actually bothering me or worrying me. I thought about St. Anthony, who journeyed out into the deserts of Egypt to escape the noise and distractions of life in the city in order to have a deeper communion with God. Once in the desert he found that the true distractions were not coming from the things around him but rather within his own soul. It was in the desert that he was able to encounter his demons and deal with them. After wrestling with the demons in his heart and finding that the true peace comes from within, he was able to return to the city and bring that peace to others. It wasn’t about the physical distractions around him, but about the internal distractions that were blocking him from communion with God. It took intentional retreat from everyday life to recognize those deeper things and to remember who he was: a child of God and a vessel for the light of Christ to shine through. It took intentional and physical retreat for me to realize that there were things deep in my heart causing me anxiety, things I had yet to hand over to God.
Sometimes we need to slow down, to stop, to be still, to turn inward and gaze upon the things in our hearts that are keeping us from a deepened relationship with God. Once we do, we may find that we can navigate the ups and downs of life with a transcendent peace and joy in our hearts that is untouched by the things of this world. I hope to continue to make time in my daily life to retreat and be still.. to be silent before God and allow her to reveal to me my inner demons so that I can acknowledge them, hand them over, and live each day in deeper communion with the Holy and Living God.