I’ve recently returned from a four day retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, KY. This was my tenth stay at this wonderful, restful place. The signs on the tables in the cafeteria say it all: “Silence is spoken here.” You are allowed to talk in the lobby and out on the beautiful grounds, but are asked to keep silence in the church, guest house rooms and around the building in deference to those who are holding their own silent retreats.
A couple of years ago, some friends and I discovered a “speaking” dining room and ate many of our meals there and caught up on each other’s days. But, this trip, since I was alone, I ate in one of the two silent dining rooms. There is also a room in the lodge where you can meet to have a group book or Bible study, and one year some friends and I did that also. We would each read a chapter in the same book, then discuss it with each other in the afternoons.
This year I read three church magazines and four non-fiction books:
Mosaic by Amy Grant was the lightest reading of them all. It was mainly an autobiography of her life interspersed with copies of her songs.
The Seeking Heart by Fenelon was the most challenging. Since I am not a Catholic, I had no idea that Fenelon was even a man! LOL He was a priest who lived in the 17th century in France, and was well-known at the time for his wisdom and spiritual insights. This book had much good advice even for today, but was also very repetitive as it was a compilation of his writings, mostly letters, and he gave similar advice to many.
A book I had been saving to read at the Abbey was God is My Success by Larry Julian. The author is a Christian from a Jewish background who has overcome many disappointments in life to go on to become a successful consultant, speaker and author. He wrote many chapters on “overcoming” to reach “true success.” Although it might mostly appeal to business people, I still gleaned many helpful insights as he shared examples from his own life and others.
My favorite book was The Secret Things of God by Dr. Henry Cloud. Howard Publishing contacted him about writing a book to give a Christian view on the best-seller The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Dr. Cloud has done that and much more. Here’s part of the back copy blurb for this book: “A positive Christian alternative to the bestselling The Secret, this books reveals the secret things of God–secrets about God, about happiness, about relationships, and about your purpose. These tested spiritual truths reveal principles that make life work…Even Christians who know and claim biblical truths often don’t know how to use them…Cloud shows readers how to unlock the treasure of these truths and ignite their power in their lives. There is, indeed, a powerful attraction at work in the universe, but rather than being between an impersonal universe and our own thoughts, this attraction is between the personal Creator of the universe and the creation He loves.”
I hope my readers will have time to read some of these books, especially the one by Dr. Cloud. And if you want more information about booking a retreat at the Abbey or to see some pictures of the lovely setting, go to www.monks.org
I will warn you that you need to book four months in advance. Also that you will probably want to go back again and again…