Saturday, August 4, 2007

Retreating with the monks

This week we went to St. Andrews Abbey for 2 days to have some time away to pray and plan for marriage. A bit ironic, perhaps, to go to a monastery for marriage preparation, but the setting was exactly what we needed. The Abbey is in the high desert, just about 1 hour from Pasadena, so it was hot, quiet, and barren. A great place to focus on God.

We planned out our time, since there were several things we wanted to discuss and pray about. We joked on the second day that with the schedule and the sessions, and the plans we were making it felt like a Christian conference...only it was just the two of us! We decided it was so effective though, we might make brochures and recommend the plan to other couples. :)

We took time to discuss and plan what our spiritual life and devotional time together will be like, prayed about our marriage, and even hiked up a nearby mountain path to sit under a desert bush and pray about God's vision for us. It was powerful to see the desert landscape and feel the sand and the heat while we reflected on others like Moses who experienced God's call in the desert.
...and by the bush on top of the mountain where we prayed

We even set some personal and couple goals for ourselves, so you can ask us how we're doing in a couple of months! We also attended the morning lauds and evening vespers services which are such a key part of the rhythm of life at the monastery. Despite the fact that it was somewhat challenging to follow the service, it was beautiful to hear the songs and join with them in worship.

We hope to make this short retreat an annual event to seek God's direction and assess where we are at. We highly recommend this, and would be happy to encourage you or point you to some good retreat centers if you want to seize the opportunity too. Or even if you just want to check out the great cacti. :)

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