Orthodox Men’s Retreats

Here we are again to reflect on a retreat for neither the first or the last time. Though, it is the first time I’m reflecting specifically on an Orthodox Christian Men’s retreat. I feel like this was a thing that I needed to experience but didn’t really even realize that I needed to experience it until after it happened.

First I must say I am very thankful to two different Michaels that I was able to attend at all – I met Michael Mason through the singles retreat the week before, and he let me know about a ticket that was available through Michael Baclig, who was heading up the retreat. I quickly made the decision that I would try to attend and was able to get off work and make necessary arrangements. My decision to go was also influenced by the fact that Fr. Stephen De Young was on the schedule, and so I am thankful that he was going as well, because I might not have been able to convince myself I wanted to make a 10 hour drive otherwise. I’ve been listening to Lord of Spirits from the beginning, and while I’d met Fr Andrew several times, I’d never seen Fr. Stephen prior, so it seemed like a good opportunity. I’m glad for that because while I wasn’t familiar with the other speakers, I was very grateful to be introduced to them.

I found the talks all to be very valuable, and it really connected in with some of my goals for the immediate future. Recently I’ve been really trying to think of ways to build community in my parish, and between the talks and conversations with other attendees, I got so many ideas for this. I really appreciated Fr Stephen’s analogy to how one goes to sleep: “lay down and pretend like you’re asleep until you’re actually asleep”. That solidified in my head what I plan to do for the small group I’ll be leading starting next week. I’ve got a few people that are lined up to attend, but I’ve told all of them: hey, I’m going to be there no matter what. If no one else shows up, I’ll sit there alone and read a book for an hour, but if even a single other person shows up we’re going to have some fellowship and conversation.

For my personal life, in the realm of what I’m willing to share publicly, thinking about the types of work that we do and the relative fulfillment from them further confirmed for me that I really need to focus on creative endeavors this year. My job is fine, but I don’t really find it fulfilling – the most that there is that I can point to and say “I did that” is something like “well, there are fewer vulnerabilities on these computers than there were when I scanned them last time” or “hey, it’s been another week with no ransomware attack!” It’s time that I got disciplined about my desire for storytelling and actually completed a writing project. That’s part of the reason I’ve committed to the reading goals I did for the year – If I’m immersed in reading, it will help in writing.

If I have any criticism of the event, it is only that it was perhaps too structured. There was always something that you should be doing. I don’t think it should be loosened up too much, but a little more breathing room throughout the day would have been nice. It was a great event though, I was so glad that I went.

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