“Dacha” a Key to Personal Retreat

This post was originally published in July of 2015.

Dacha is one of my favorite words.

It’s Russian and I was introduced to it in the town of Istra, Russia in January 2012 while speaking on the topics of rest and retreat at a conference for Christian camp leaders.

Dacha is a ‘getaway’ cottage—a place of retreat. The use of this word makes faces light up and eyes dance.

What word makes your eyes dance? Lightens your load?

I pray it might become the word retreat.

Here’s a Few Things I’ve Learned

  • Retreat is the pursuit of God off the beaten path.
  • It can take place in a single, solitary hour. Or it can span many hours, many days. Many miss the glorious gift of retreat because they fail to recognize the value of a single, solitary hour. Good things come in small packages.
  • Retreat can take place while coursing down the highway at 70 mph. It can take place sitting on a park bench, in public or in private, on the beach, in a coffee shop, in the woods, on a roof, in a boat, in your favorite chair at home.
  • You can “retreat” with a friend or a small group. The solitary nature of retreat prevents many people from engaging, but it’s an unnecessary roadblock. Jesus’ retreat time often included others (Matthew 17:1, Luke 22:39-41). Enjoy the camaraderie of traveling together and shared meals, but go your separate ways for times of rest, reflection, prayer, exploration, study.
  • Retreat will include things that allow you to tap into the deep resources of God. But recognize the value of rest and recreation. Take time to unwind. For some that may require many hours. Most of us are wound tighter than a top. Feast. Nap. Hike. If you’re at a retreat center take time to boat, read, fish, star gaze or shoot some hoops. Allow it to be a day of delight.
  • Retreat demands an open heart. Don’t come with great expectations. You might leave disappointed. Come with a surrendered heart intent on the desire, “Find rest, O, my soul in God alone.” (Psalm 62:5) Your cup will overflow.

Food For Thought

  • When planning a personal retreat, ask a friend to join you. As the day draws near and the stress of life mounts, it is easy to renege, but much harder if you’ve invited a friend. Enjoy your time together, but prioritize a significant portion of your time for God.
  • If you’re looking for a retreat center, check out Christian Camp and Conference Association. Many camps and retreat centers don’t have a formal personal retreat ministry, but most will open their doors and put out the welcome mat. www.ccca.org
  • Allow ‘retreat’ to become an intentional rhythm, an offensive, strategic priority in your life. Commit to a time of retreat once a year, once a season, once a month. Tie your retreat experience to a yearly event: your birthday, your favorite month of the year, Labor Day, New Year’s Day.

Red Pen

Pick a date and a manageable time frame.

Consider a favorite place.

Childcare? Get creative: tag team or divide and conquer!

Finally, listen well to the One who calls to your heart.

Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31

What makes your eyes light up? 

First time here?

4 thoughts on ““Dacha” a Key to Personal Retreat”

  1. All these things sound good, but…. if I’m in public, with people, I look for and try to minister to their needs. Is it a hug or a shoulder, a listening ear, an opportunity? If sit outside on a bench or in a chair I see sticks to pick up and chores that need doing. When was the last time I watered the roses? I’m finding God’s will and His way in brokenness. I can’t do anything. I had 104 emails, devotions, that I waded through and the 2 main messages I got from God were surrender (argh. There are things I want and need to do). How do I surrender my agenda and surrender to God. Surrender to God, not His thoughts, His direction, His desires. All He desires is me. Just me in relationships with Him. No things I have to put on my to-do list. No pieces of my time to check off….just Jesus. Stopping physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually is harder than it sounds. Then I was reminded that my healing is and must be in God’s hands, not mine. That calls for wait. I have to wait, not for healing, but for the time, for opportunity, for letting go. I guess the 2 lessons are all in one. Now, here, I have my list of pros and cons. It is a crazy nonsensical list. I know that I have two options and I recognize the only choice I want is God’s will, His wisdom. I’m tired. I can’t fight. I leave the issues with the Lord. Somehow I know that God has this taken care of. Two months in the hospital. I’m ready (?) to go home and truly figure out my place there.

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