Last weekend, sixteen women gathered for the first annual Advent Retreat of Silence at Calvin Crest. With sixty-degree temperatures, the participants enjoyed time sitting outside, hiking the trails, and connecting with God in His creation. Hot coffee and a crackling fire in three indoor locations invited them to warm up as temperatures started cooling off. More than 15 stations or experiences beckoned them to listen to God speaking to them. 

Great measures were taken to ensure everyone’s safety in the midst of Covid-19. Screening upon arrival, masks worn throughout, social distancing, individually wrapped food, boxed meals, and lots of hand sanitizer accompanied the weekend. “I felt safer here this weekend than I have felt anywhere over the last eight months,” shared one retreatant at the closing session. 

Solitude is a time when we withdraw from the company of others in order to give God our full, undivided attention. We are freed from the expectations of others so that our heart, mind, and will are oriented towards God. Silence is withdrawal not only from the company of others, but also from noise, sounds, and words. Many of the participants had never spent this much time (38 hours straight!) in silence and solitude, but as they did, they found they could listen to God, face the condition of their own souls, and be freed from the obsession of speech. This is why Henri Nouwen referred to solitude as “the furnace of transformation.” 

“Calvin Crest has always had a special place in my heart and is a huge reason I am the Christian I am today, but this experience has taken me to a whole new level of deep appreciation for God and what He has created…” wrote one participant after the retreat. 

Here are a few comments from others in attendance:

“You really can’t put a price tag on this experience. I was truly blessed this weekend, and it exceeded my expectations!” 

“Not having a required schedule helped me relax and settle into the retreat. Thank you so much for this amazing event! I will look forward to this again and again!” 

“All of the stations were so thoughtful and great. I loved the variety and all the thought that went into everything. The freedom to do as we wanted with no pressure was so meaningful. I felt a sense of peace and rest that I haven’t felt in a long time. I will come again and again.” 

“As an introvert, having permission to not talk to people and to be alone is such a gift. Calvin Crest is a beautiful place to heal, to see God’s beauty in abundance, and fell His love and peace.” 

“I know and believe that God is always present, but this weekend I saw and heard Him in nature like I never had before, and I listened! I actually invited two friends, but they were unable to come. Now I can tell them firsthand what an amazing time I had with God.” 

The Advent Retreat of Silence will be an annual event at Calvin Crest, and the date for next year’s retreat is December 3-5, 2021. We look forward to offering more diverse experiences when we are not under the strict restrictions of Covid-19, but even so, we left with full hearts and rested souls, ready to receive all that this Advent has to offer.

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