Solitude. Respite. Inhale, exhale. The following article is by Lacy Largent, Camp Allen's Spiritual Director, about the beauty of retreat and what Camp Allen can offer those of you who are looking for a space to refill your soul in the presence of God.
“Draw yourself a times of listening to silence. Draw yourself a times of sweet solitude. And come to avoid sounds of ones constantly speaking. And the word of heavenly wisdom will come to you.” These lyrics by John Michael and Terry Talbot speak to a theology of retreat that includes listening, silence, solitude, intentional separation from distractions, and connection with the heavenly wisdom of God. Remarkably, a retreat can be over a few days or through a quiet time one has carved out within the space of a day, an hour, and maybe even a few minutes! The notion of “going on retreat” has been taken up by corporate groups, organizations, civic groups, religious groups, individual retreatants, and many others who come to Camp Allen. In a theological context, making a retreat typically has as part of its purpose drawing closer to God, others, and oneself. In the course of our busy lives, it is helpful and perhaps essential, for us to be intentional about setting apart time and space to devote to just simply “being” in the presence of God.
Camp Allen offers a wonderfully sacred environment where those on retreat can experience a sense of the holy out in the midst of nature: seeing the majesty of the trees looming overhead, taking in the smell of the fragrant flowers and the piney woods, hearing the birds chirping, tasting the salt on your lips after a long walk on one of our many trails, and touching items left as gifts in your path by the many creatures that make Camp Allen their home. Consider making plans to come retreat with us: roam the grounds; sit and pray in one of our several meditation areas; walk the stations of the cross; journey through our labyrinth letting go of thoughts and things that are distracting you as you move toward the center and embracing the gifts God places in your heart and mind as you move outward from the center back into the world; and participate in our daily worship services thus structuring your day around prayer in community.
Many clergy and lay persons come to Camp Allen to retreat while serving as a Chaplain-in-Residence. They serve for a week—from Monday afternoon through Sunday morning--leading Morning and Evening Prayer twice daily, and celebrating or assisting with the Holy Eucharist on Sunday. With those minimal, but important, responsibilities, chaplains-in-residence have an abundance of free time to simply “be,” to read and study, to walk and exercise, to rest and sleep, to keep silence, to pray, to listen for heavenly wisdom from God, and to intentionally choose solitude and create a space wherein God may dwell.
In what he calls an abstract reflection on his experience of serving as a Chaplain-in-Residence, the Rev. Mitch Tollett, Rector of St. Francis in Tyler, writes: “Morning Prayer in the Pines—listening to the sound of the wind running through the trees—flowers, bricks, bushes and a fire pit—the peace, the quiet, the comfort—the smell of bacon—the tearing of the fabric of time and space that the ringing bell causes, realizing that the call to prayer is compelling and loud—the cold water from the font serving as a reminder of being marked as Christ’s own forever—the smell of lighting the candles—then the prayer, never said alone—never alone even when we mark it down as one.”
If you are a Clergyperson or a Licensed Worship Leader and would like to learn more about the Chaplain-in-Residence Program at Camp Allen, please contact The Rev. Lacy Largent, Camp Allen’s Spiritual Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org