Those around the church who know me well know that I am techno-centric, internet connected geek. My iPhone (and its internet connection) is rarely more than a few inches from me. I read, research and write sermons and teaching materials on my iPad. My desk at the office is dominated by my iMac. I am connected to friends, family and church members on Facebook, Twitter and email and I write this blog. I beta test software on all my devices because I like living on the leading edge of technology. I love all the benefits that this technology brings to my life and I have a hard time imagining life without it.
However, that is exactly what I will be doing from July 31 through August 9 as I travel to Snowmass, Colorado and St. Benedict’s Monastery Retreat Center for the nine days of a contemplative prayer retreat. Set in the Rocky Mountains, the monastery and retreat center offer a beautiful place for silence and solitude and the contemplative prayer retreat will provide an opportunity for centering and reflection.
Why would someone like myself willingly disconnect from the internet and information that surrounds me much of the day? Why would I slow down and pause for prayer and reflection in such an intensive way? The answer is simple – I need it. Even though I know that it will be difficult for me to do so and that such reflection does not come easily to me – I need it. You see, I lead a very noisy life. The technology I love, my ministry at the church, and my family life create a lot of activity and frenzy in my life. There is very little time for quiet and reflection in my days. Sometimes this is the result of my own choices and sometimes it is due to things beyond my control. Truth be told, I like the noise and busyness. I have no regrets about my life. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yet we all need breaks from the normal flow and hustle of life. Jesus knew this and set a great example for all who seek to follow him. Read the Gospels and you will see he modeled engagement paired with dedicated time for reflection.
Therefore I am going on retreat.
The people who know me well know that this is going to be hard for me. Indeed, I am reasonably confident that at some point in the retreat I will be climbing a nearby peak to search out the cell signal so I can check my twitter feed or download a new e-book. As one church member put it this morning in a conversation with me, I am going from “geek to mystic” and that is not an easy thing. But then again, most things worth doing are not easy.
I am thankful for those who are making this trip to Snowmass and the monastery possible – those who made the arrangements for me to go on the retreat, my wife who will be a solo parent while I am away, and my fellow staff members at the church who will be covering my work while I am away. I pray that God will give me the strength and commitment necessary to take advantage of this tremendous gift that I have been given to disengage from the hustle and noise of life to deepen my connection with the ground of my being – the Lord God, who is always present but whose presence I often miss because I am too busy and noisy to notice