How strange is it for so many people to question the value of religious retreats yet clamour to take other breaks away from it all?
Their attitude can amount to attacks on the blessings that may be there to be gained from seeking the opportunity to garner spiritual nourishment through savouring a rest from the “rat race” yet this is seldom appreciated by those outside what may be called the circle of faith.
In the process of recently perusing media outlets, my attention was drawn to a story which involved a prominent couple reporting that they were seeking a break from their day-to-day existence.
The actress and writer Tammin Sursok was its subject, electing to enjoy a week-long visit to what the report described as a “wellness resort”.
Let me admit that I’ve not been able to enjoy the benefits of a visit to locations of this type or to savour what these resorts can offer, but I have taken simpler holidays and enjoyed being absent from the pressures of everyday life.
Quite possibly a whole new perspective may develop after one is exposed to the wonders of a detox spa, which was to be provided for the actress and her husband.
Then there was the chance to enjoy yoga, take cycle rides, be pampered with special skincare products, and receive a massage.
One of the most positive aspects of this story was not so much the personal enjoyment apparently set to be undertaken by the couple but instead the thoughts that the actress expressed about positive measures that can be adopted to improve our daily lives.
“We are drinking alcohol to feel better when, in fact, it makes us feel worse” she said before going on to criticise watching what she called “mindless TV” and then ventured the opinion that people “eat out for the convenience instead of sustenance because cooking takes too much time”.
“What are we living for? What are we rushing towards?” she asked, posing many of the questions that people who may be considering a more spiritual retreat might also seek to address.
It’s often the case that those who question the faithful who are prepared to attend religious retreats find it difficult to understand the specific reasons why they are prepared to give up a few days of their lives for a spiritual break away from regular habits such as consuming media and winding down with a few drinks.
In fact, the faithful are seeking the same opportunity to escape from various daily pressures and to find answers to questions similar to those which were posed in the story that attracted my attention.
Most religious retreats offer opportunities to find solutions without having to be concerned about the impost of bills as heavy as those which can be levied by a “wellness resort” – although it is necessary to accept that the trappings of a detox spa, yoga, a massage and special skincare may not be there to be enjoyed at retreat houses.
A good old-fashioned holiday just to get away from it all is always welcome and is necessary at times, just as a visit to the more elaborate surrounds of a special resort can lift the spirits as long as money is available to meet the cost.
Religious retreats also may require payment but the impost usually is affordable for the majority of people – and the result can be an opportunity to nurture not just mind and body but also the spirit by providing stimulation to provoke thought processes that can take us outside of ourselves.
Pressures in our society can create burdens which may become very difficult for some to endure, but it seems somewhat contradictory for those who are in the prime of life and just completing Higher School Certificate examinations to often seek as they do some rite of passage by taking a break for a much longer period.
What they call a “gap year” is rarely available to their parents who must work to feed and keep families together.
Perhaps a short religious retreat could be just enough to assist in addressing the needs of both the young and those who are older?