Trappist AbbeyI just returned from two days and two nights with the Trappist monks at their wine country abbey near Lafayette, Oregon. A personal retreat is a requirement for a seminary class I’m taking and this particular abbey was my first location choice because they have hiking trails on about 1,300 acres. 

I spent two and a half hours one afternoon hiking up and around the abbey mountain. I didn’t see another person the entire time. It was wonderful just being with the squirrels, birds, trees, and God. One of my favorite parts of the hike was listening to the singing of the birds. Their songs were so varied and beautiful.

Whenever I’m captured by the wonder of nature I always want sing two songs:

Trappist Abbey trailFor the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies/For the love which from our birth, over and around us lies/Lord of all to Thee we raise, this our hymn of thankful praise

This is my Father’s world and to my listening ears/All nature sings and around me rings the music of the spheres/This is my Father’s world, he shines in all that’s fair/In the rustling grass I hear him pass, he speaks to me everywhere

Being in the beauty of creation is good for my soul. It relaxes, refreshes, and inspires me. It’s as if God’s love and peace are stuck some place deep inside of me, but as I walk and breathe and take in my surroundings, the love and peace are released and permeate my entire body and being. I feel alive.

Here’s my recommendation for moms. Get away for a couple of nights. Release your children into the care of your husband or a trusted relative or friend. Go someplace beautiful and spend time outdoors. Care for yourself and invest in yourself this way. It’s good for you. It’s healthy. It reminds you that you too are a person in need of rest and care.

On your retreat, let God care for you. Be quiet. In the silence, as you move and as you are still, listen for God’s loving voice. Let God love you. Let God free you from the accusing internal voices, and from the expectations that others put on you and that you put on yourself. Let God speak the truth to you about who you really are.

When was the last time you let God nurture you through nature? Have you ever taken a personal retreat?