I’m not big on conducted retreats where a priest tells you what to think and do. I’m sure they’re ok, but not for me. What do I do on retreat? Sleep, read, pray, walk around and look out the window.
There’s a lot to be said for looking out windows. I think we should all spend more time looking out the window. You better find a good window to look out of first. It doesn’t have to be a fantastic view across misty mountains. In fact, it’s better if it’s not. On the other hand, looking out on a raw sewage processing plant is probably not a good idea either. Just an ordinary window will do. One which looks out on the yard. Make sure there’s a couple of trees and some bird life maybe. Not too much action. You want stillness. Stillness and little stuff.
Then you start your window looking. Just gaze and sit still. Before long your mind clicks into another channel and you’re doing some prayer. You see the tree move a little bit in the breeze and something moves a little bit in you. You hear a bird sing and your heart starts to sing. You see the clouds moving low across the sky and you hope one day to be a cloud, flying across the sky for Matins in the heavenly chapel. Maybe a child passes by on his way to school and you’re a child at heart still learning.
Why not go outside and look at this stuff? Because behind your window your detached and the detachment is necessary to observe. Detachment is not hating physical things and things of this world. It is loving them the right way. Love all things according to their worth. Aha. There’s the trick. We have to be able to discern the true worth of all things before we can love them according to their true worth.
The only way to learn the true worth of anything is to hold it up to the light of God and squint at it the way a jeweler squints at a diamond, and maybe you have to wear one of those eye piece magnifying glass things which is also called prayer. Then in the light of Christ the true value of everything is exposed for what it is, and then you can love it accordingly.
To develop that ability you have to spend more time looking out windows.