A few weekends ago, Jim and I attended a silent retreat at the Well Being Conference Center just 8 miles north of Tazewell, TN.
Yes, I said “silent”. We were not supposed to talk after 9:00 Friday evening until noon on Sunday, except for structured sharing sessions each day. We did it, for the most part, and learned a lot about ourselves along the way. I’ll try to share some of what we learned.
The Well Being Conference Center. First, the facility is just wonderful. I’ve included many photos here to give you an idea. They have cozy, new cabins with radiant floor heating, sod-roofs, beamed ceilings, a full bath and kitchen. The lodge, where the dining room and meeting room are located, was a short walk up the hill. Their website has all the details, so check it out.
Why did I want to do something like this? Well, my superficial answer is that I wanted to have a mini-vacation where I did not have to drive too far (it is only about 30 miles from Sharps Chapel) and I could enjoy their unique surroundings — a 150 acre peninsula of land surrounded for 2.5 miles by the Powell River, with a 360 degree view at the top of the hill.
But on a deeper level, that first evening, we had an opportunity to share our “intentions” for the weekend and I realized that there was a much stronger reason.
I started out by sharing that my father passed away last summer. He was 97 and our family had to step in when his alzheimers no longer allowed him to live independently.
His disease made him a difficult person to deal with and after his death, I was looking for ways, happier ways, to connect with the person he used to be — to try to remember the father I lost.
When I was a kid, I remembered him going to Gethsemani for retreats — a monastery in Trappist Kentucky.
Well, this silent weekend was my Gethsemani.
What was it like? The experience is different for everyone. There were 12 in our group and at the end of the weekend, everyone felt a connection that could not have been achieved without this shared experience. The openness of many of the individuals, as they chose to personally share their revelations from self-reflection during the silence, was very emotional and powerful.
One woman told me (after we were allowed to talk again) that she goes to Gethsemani every year and encouraged me to go there myself. I had no idea that they even did this any more. I think it is something I would like to do.
Would I recommend this to others? Absolutely! Disconnecting from technology and not reading or talking, opens up the opportunity to discover yourself and your personal limitations.
I’ll never forget the time I went caving with a Girl Scout troop that I had and discovered that I am claustrophobic in tight places. If you don’t test yourself, you never get to know the real you.
There is another silent retreat scheduled for May 15-17 2015. Did I mention that it is FREE? There is no charge for the event except that they ask that you bring and prepare one meal.
Silence Not Golden For You? Well, their facilities are perfect for quilting retreats, family reunions, weddings and more.
Life is Adventure!