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The secret of retreat

Posted by Simon Parke, 20 October 2013, 5.18am

I’m leading a retreat this week at Abbey House in Glastonbury.

And here’s the secret of retreat: allow what’s happening.

It may sound obvious but it is an unusual trait in people.

Most of us do not allow what is happening inside us, but resist it. We paper over truth’s gentle opening with distraction, which we’re good at. As long as we don’t stop, as long as we’re doing this or that, keeping moving, the truth can never catch us.

And we’re wary of truth because we’re not in control of it.

So we do not accept what’s happening, that’s the thing; we do not allow it, it’s too dangerous, this is what we fear, it’s beyond our control, and we like control. Who knows what we’ll find?

So we concrete over truth’s fragile opening with mind-busy escape, with self-punishing striving, with weary cynicism, with a desire to save others, we have many ways to block, many ways to dump on the green shoots of life.

And anyway, what is there to learn? And now we’re getting angry, because we know. We teach others! We know things already, we’re adults, for God’s sake, so why bother with what’s happening now? We’re the best judges of what’s good for us and what we need! This is who we are, thank you very much - don’t make me feel bad!

Strong feelings can arise.

So the secret of retreat is to let go of our fear, bid farewell to our desire for control, calm our terrified psyche, be kind to our panic and to allow what’s happening, to let this moment be.

There is no judgment here, no feeling bad; just kindly light, golden and warm, in which to stop and sit with our lives; in which to witness the birth of something fresh, something new.

The secret of retreat is to allow what’s happening, because there’s nothing to fear.

And of course life is a retreat.

You don’t have to go to Glastonbury…your front room will do.





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