Look back over the Retreat
Now, at the end of the retreat, as at the end of any extended period of prayer, it’s worth taking time to look back
Near the beginning of Saint Mark’s gospel, Mark gathers together a number of the “typical” things that Jesus will do throughout his ministry. He teaches in the synagogues. He heals the sick. He welcomes crowds of people. He confronts evil. He debates with people whose idea of God is very different from his. And then, right in the middle of all this activity, he takes time in the early morning to go off by himself to a quiet place, a wilderness, to pray. Maybe this image captures something of what this retreat has been like for you.
Now, at the end of the retreat, as at the end of any extended period of prayer, it’s worth taking time to look back. Find an opportunity to go back over any notes that you might have taken; or read some of the scripture passages again. Notice whether things seem different now that you have reached this point. Perhaps you notice things that you missed at the time; or perhaps one or two things stand out as being more important than you realised when you first experienced them. The following questions may help your review:
• What is the first thing that I remember about the retreat as I think back over it today?
• Can I recall moments during it, in prayer or at other times, when I felt close to God and fully alive?
• Were there moments when I can remember feeling challenged by the scripture I prayed with?
• What has changed, in my relationship with God, since I started the retreat?
• What do I want to make sure that I don’t forget?
• What do I most need from God as I move forward?
As we’ve seen in these days, the wilderness is both a specific place, uninhabited lands outside the towns and villages of Palestine; but also an image for those places where we can meet God today, away from the bustle of everyday life. Wildernesses of this kind can be peaceful, but they can also be challenging. It’s hard, though, to imagine any kind of Christian life that doesn’t involve, at least now and then, a journey to the wilderness. Maybe one of the things that this retreat has offered is a deeper knowledge of how to make that journey. As you thank God one more time for the gifts he has given you in this retreat, ask him to continue to be there to meet you, each time you venture into the wilderness.