This week I took a two-day personal retreat at the Good Shepherd Peace Center a few miles outside of Juba. Getting there was a bit of an adventure (of course!) as I tried traveling by public bus on a route we have not used before. But as soon as I arrived, I felt myself relax and let out a big sigh, eager to leave behind the hustle, noise, and dust of the city for a few days. I spent long stretches of unstructured time praying, reading, watching nature, taking slow walks, and thinking. I felt like I was experiencing the verse in Psalm 63 that says “my soul is satisfied as with the richest of foods” as I reconnected with God, refocused, and was refreshed.
On my way to catch the bus…
Here are a few of the mental images that stood out to me during this brief retreat:
- The iridescent blue of the swallows as they swoop by me.
- Sinking knee-deep in mud when I tried to wade in the river
- The silhouette of an owl at dusk, perched at the top of a nearby tree
- A mourning dove’s call, like the purring of a contented cat
- Sitting alone in the chapel, enjoying the sense of God’s love and presence as I prayed.
- The amazing variety of patterns and sizes of the butterflies, dancing around the flowers.
- The greeting of the hunter I encountered on my morning walk, carrying a bow and arrow as big as he was.
- An inspiring conversation with a Catholic sister about her experiences in South Sudan, who declared “God sent you here! I’m so excited to meet you!”
The chapel at the Good Shepherd Center
I returned to Juba refreshed, refocused, and reminded that depending on God and focusing on Him is what will accomplish more than any effort I put in on my own. Does taking a retreat sound like something you need too? If so, I hope that you can find the time and space, in whatever way it looks like for you, to step back, disconnect from the demands and routine, and reconnect to the Source.
“…In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)