On Retreat And Obedience At Richmond Hill

The outer gate

I went on retreat last weekend, off to one of my favorite places in the world. Richmond Hill is one of the city’s best kept secrets; it sits high atop the hustle and bustle of daily life in the middle of Church Hill. The property was established in the early 1800’s, and has been a boarding school and a convent; it is rich with history and beauty. In a city full of Civil War-era monuments and relics, Richmond Hill is a unique place of peace.

Since the 1980’s, the walls have enclosed an ecumenical retreat center and residential community, focusing on daily prayers for the city and surrounding areas and “personal spiritual development and interracial harmony”.

I’ve made a few day trips to Richmond Hill. I have walked the labyrinth, attended a centering prayer group, snuck into the chapel to play the piano and fallen asleep in the library while reading Thomas Merton. An overnight retreat was on my bucket list; I intended to do a solo retreat and see what happened, but Healing Your Image of God was a guided retreat on the calendar.

I signed up.

I told myself that I certainly didn’t need my image of God healed – if anything, I’ve got that figured out – but certainly I’d learn something.

I learned something alright; that in spite of how much we grow, in the hustle and bustle of life, corruption of truth can sneak in under the corners of our well-ordered activity.

I’d told Tony as I drove away that I was a tiny bit apprehensive, if only because I was venturing into uncharted territory. Control issues, you know; this was something I’d never done before; but I knew God wanted me to go. He responded, “Do you have a habit of disobeying God?” Then he kissed me goodbye.

Fifth door on the right…

I walked down the long hallway on the third floor to find my room. On the ancient wooden door frame was stenciled the “name” of my room:

St. Benedict – “Obedience”

Well, then.

I’ll continue to write about my retreat experience over the next few days.

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