A Retreat Was All That She Needed

Published August 6, 1981. A few columns back I quoted an article by Reverend Lloyd Ogilvie, a Presbyterian Minister in California who commented that Christian Churches in America could do more to help stabilize family life in the United States. This past week I received a letter from a reader relating what one denomination in our area is already doing. She wrote:
Dear Dr. Barlow:

A few weeks ago, you wrote a column titled ‘Could Churches Do More?’ My letter is in response to what is being done for single parents.

I am a single parent, having been divorced for the past 10 years.

I know I have my failings, but I would like to consider myself a rather devoted parent. I have felt the responsibility of raising my children quite keenly, and have done my best to raise them properly.

Last August, however, I began to consider the terrific desire to escape. The more I thought about it, the greater the urge. If I could only get away for just a while! Not only from my employment, but from going home, cleaning house, shopping, from my children, from everything. I began to feel like things were closing in, and soon the idea of getting away began not to be an optional ‘nicety’; it suddenly became more and more a critical requirement. But how could I do it?

I was of limited means, that being the largest requirement to be able to get away. Even a house empty of children, phone off the hook would call me to clean, call me to do something. No, I had to get away. But with little money I knew there would not be any chance of even a short trip. I became more and more discouraged, almost despondent.

Then I remembered when I was in college, some of my Catholic friends used to go on retreats. I contacted a Catholic retreat house in Ogden, Our Lady of the Mountains, and asked if a private retreat was possible. “Absolutely” was my answer.

Despite some comments from neighbors that I was self-centered and selfish, I decided to go. I made arrangements for my children, and I went away for three of the most marvelous days one could possibly hope for.

Shall I tell you what I found? Silence, beautiful and quiet. I was alone. I walked in the hills. I studied my scriptures, I knelt and prayed in the mountain trees, I watched sunsets, and listened to the crickets and locusts at night. I heard no sounds but the words I spoke when I prayed, as I walked along the fields. I slept and awoke in the mornings and didn’t have to get up. I would stay in bed and listen to the birds sing their song, I meditated and found sunrises in the hills. I basked in the most elegant three days of my life.

At the end of that time I came home, refreshed, to begin again. And I could begin. And when I think of those days, I think of an oasis – of peace. I found those three days were a great balm to me.

The retreat is not a money-making endeavor for the Catholic Church, but many weary hearts find peace, and perhaps spiritual renewal.”
The personnel and staff at Our Lady of the Mountains in Ogden certainly are to be commended for the assistance they render, particularly to single parents in stabilizing family life in the Intermountain area.

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