Monday, July 24, 2006

Restorative Retreat?

Restorative: adj. Having the power to restore
Restore: verb To bring back to an original condition

I thought retreats were supposed to restore a person. To get her recharged and ready to keep battling life. I had even been journaling about that very thing last weekend when I was enjoying a couples' getaway without children.

After returning to whiney children and the drudgery of household responsibilities, I am rethinking this. I am not returning to normal life with a renewed energy. I am not tackling it with gusto. My children? They didn't seem to really miss me, which is a wonderful thing as far as leaving them in the future (guilt-free). They had a fun and busy weekend with our sitter, who let them stay up late and was probably more permissive than mom and dad. My husband had to remind me that my two year old, especially, needs time to return to accepting his normal routine (cheerfully).

My dinner tonight? I have prepared one of our favorites, black bean and chicken tostados, but I can't drum up the excitement that I felt about our varied and delicious buffet dinner Friday night, which we ate outside overlooking the beautiful hills of New Hampshire. I do have Oreos in the cabinet and the freezer is restocked with ice cream, but I will not be able to glory in the spread of desserts that was there that evening. Honestly, we could have started and finished at the dessert table. A wonderful treat, but if it was everyday life, not only would none of my clothes fit, but perhaps even that abundance would become commonplace?

I guess that's one thing that makes a retreat so wonderful. It is glorious simply because it's a break from the ordinary. But I think I have to be careful not to read more into it. You see, while I am retreating, life is continuing on as it always has and will continue to. I am being brought back to my "original condition." I enjoy being a mom. I enjoy my kids. I enjoy cooking (but not cleaning) for my family. Experiencing restoration will not necessarily propel me higher and further, but it will clean off the dust and cobwebs and make me shine. Maybe a better word for original is ideal. It implies a standard of perfection--something to strive for.

So, will I keep retreating? You bet! I know that for me, these pockets of time when I can have some reflective time to see what needs to be changed and what is actually working well, and rediscover myself as a person or my husband as a man and a best friend is actually very important. I think that I had anticipated appreciating my daily life more after retreating, but perhaps it is my daily life that makes me appreciate my retreats even more. By living in a vacuum for a time, maybe it does make me strive for the ideal condition, instead of the dusty cobwebby one: Children who are obedient and well-rested. A mom who is patient and responds in love. Dinners prepared with love for my family, and even household chores done with respect for them and my role as wife and mother. If all else fails, I can always retreat again.


Katrina said...

I think that in my life, different retreats have had different results. Some have challenged and motivated me to return to "everyday life" with renewed dedication and energy. But others, as you mentioned, have been wonderful simply because they were a break from the day-to-day. Either way, retreats are important and I'm glad you were able to have one this weekend!

Katherine@Raising Five said...

I'm glad you got to get away. I would love to do that soon!

I think I've been most "restored" on the trips that were for another purpose...I had a wonderful time with my sister when I drove with her to my grandmother's funeral, for example. I think my crazy expectations ruin it when I think I'm supposed to "get" something out of it. When will I ever learn?

Lee said...

I, too, was slammed with reality upon our return. The value in retreat for me is to gain perspective. By stepping away from my everyday life, I can see where God has worked and where he wants to work. But the work itself has not been fun this week! When is that next retreat?