I look forward to my silent retreat every single year. A time to disconnect from the world and all my various roles within it and to reconnect to myself as a beloved daughter of God. This time has become a light at the end of many a dark tunnel and has served as the annual sabbath I need to be the fullest version of myself…for the most part.
This year is no different in regards to my joy and expectation for my time in quiet connection with the Triune God, but as my retreat approached I found myself torn about which books I should pack this year.
This “book packing” process starts about two months before my retreat as I loosely hold, with great joy (think, a kid in a candy story) the question of “what books this year?” As I move through the weeks I often feel a pull to a theme, a feeling or a hope that will help me choose and pack. And yes, it is something closer to a box of books than anything else.
Surprisingly, this year has been a bit different. The more I dwelled in the question, the less books I felt called to take. I know! Mind blowing indeed! Me, a bibliophile who cherishes books and always wants options, is being called to take less and less books. After an enlightening conversation with Haddi, I came to realize that the call isn’t just to take “less books” but to take a specific subset of books. Books that express and articulate my inner world. Foundational texts that resonate with who I am right now and inspire me to who I want to be in the future.
This year I will be taking three books and those books are…
The Bible: but not just any bible, it is actually the Inclusive Bible which is the first egalitarian translation. I’ve had it on my shelf for a while but not used it as what I call a “working bible” so I am excited to sink my teeth into this translation.
Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God: this collection of poems has come with me on many retreats and they always speak deeply to me in new and inspiring ways.
Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown. I know this comes as no surprise AT ALL, but this book has been such a “word” for me since the murder of George Floyd and is shaping who I am attempting to be in this world filled with violence, hate, and a social reckoning that isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And like the book nerd I am, I did purchase a new copy of this retreat time so I can read it with fresh eyes.
Alongside these books I am taking a few additional reading materials; a guided devotional and two magazines.
The devotional I am taking is from “She Reads Truth” and it is their 1 & 2 Corinthians Study which focuses on the body of Christ imagery. I have always been a fan of Paul (for some of you that might come as a surprise) and the body of Christ imagery has been foundational for me as a leader and a member of the church. I hope this intentional time in the Word will provide fresh assurances for me as a member of the body of Christ.
The two magazines are this year’s quarterly editions of the “Yes!” Magazine which I first acquired this year and have been loving. So many of us complain about the news and how there isn’t ever anything reported about all the good that is happening in the world. I am realizing the problem might be less the news but not what media we choose to consume and support. Yes! Magazine is a litany of stories about the good being done all over the world for the world, communities and the self. It is an inspiring read that answers the question: “what good is happening in this world?”
Whatever the Spirit brings throughout this year’s retreat, it is clear to me that my deepest longing, my spirit’s yearning is to reconnect to that which I know to be true. A truth found within myself, my relationship with my God and in the words, wisdom and poetry of ancient and modern writers.
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.John 8:31-32