I find in this work of being a pastor, that I need to retreat and recharge every now and then. Often we call things retreats that are more like meetings in nice and/or outdoor places. Sometimes, though, I need un-programmed, silent time to rest and to pray. Time in prayer helps me lead and serve better.
I thought I’d share two great local (Texas) options I’ve found for other pastors and rostered leaders for solitude and deep prayer.
A year ago, I took a few days to be alone in the Hilltop Cabin at Lutheran Camp Chrysalis. This small cabin is perfect for a solo retreat. It is all by itself, at the top of the hill. I imagine in summer you might find campers climbing to the cross on the cliff, but in Spring last year I could walk to the cliff and be alone with that view. Cross Trails Ministry provides this retreat free of charge for Southwestern Texas Synod rostered leaders, as they are a ministry of the synod. This is an incredible gift. You can choose to have meals at camp if there are groups there, but I chose to be completely alone for a few days. There are also other rooms and areas for pastor retreats at both Ebert and Chrysalis. Contact them at 830-257-6340 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Another great silent retreat option - for pastors and lay leaders - is Lebh Shomea House of Prayer outside of Sarita, Texas. I enjoyed a Fall time of retreat there. They have rooms and cabins for one or two people. This is a contemplative Roman Catholic community. Guests eat meals in the guesthouse with others, but in silence. An extensive library of spiritual writings is great for relaxing and learning. You can participate in morning eucharist services, and afternoon group silent prayer. They ask for a suggested stipend of $60 a night, which includes meals. This is a former ranch, with beautiful main house, and chapels. The small cabins are simple and lovely - a bed, desk, chair for prayer, closet and bathroom. There are trails on over 1,000 acres for walking in the South Texas wilderness. Contact: www.lebhshomea.org 361-294-5369 email@example.com
My contemplative practice is Centering Prayer. Throughout the year, Heart of Texas Contemplative Outreach offers multi-day centering prayer retreats at Cedarbrake Renewal Center in Belton, Texas. These retreats also include silent meals and group silent prayer times. There are also times available to watch videos on Centering Prayer. A 10-day retreat there many years ago was my introduction to silent retreats, and an invaluable experience in deepening my faith and prayer practice. A six-day retreat is about $595. Prices vary by length of retreat: www.heartoftexas-co.org or call Church of Conscious Harmony 512-347-9673.
Luke 5:15-16 But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
I encourage all church leaders - pastors, deacons, leadership team members, musicians, education ministers, etc.- to follow Jesus’ example in his own ministry, and take time to be alone with God, without other tasks or goals, just to pray. I hope these resources and recommendations will be of use to those looking for a deserted place to pray.
*photos - Hilltop Cabin, Camp Chrysalis