Remembering My Silent Retreat

By Bob Dueck

Bob-Cabin.jpgA few years ago, in winter, I took a solitary four-day retreat where I had the sole use of a small cabin at a retreat centre. Prior to the retreat, I had talked to my spiritual director and she suggested dividing each day into three parts, each focusing on a different centre: Head Centre in the morning with contemplation and study, Gut/Body Centre in the afternoon with something physical, and Heart Centre in the evening with art or music.

I took this to heart and planned a hugely ambitious schedule, filling up every day with practices for Head, Body, and Heart. I arrived on the first day, exhausted by a head cold. After unpacking and having lunch, I promptly fell on the couch and had a long nap. My highly planned schedule went out the window almost immediately and in a day or so I settled into a rhythm that did involve time for each of the centres, but in a way that was much more responsive to the present moment.

I found a Henri Nouwen book in the cabin (“In the Name of Jesus”) that formed the basis for my morning contemplation and study. One message from this book was that God is a God of the present – listen deeply to what your life is now and you will know what to do in the future. A second message is that in the spiritual life, there is nothing to accomplish – each day has its own being and you just have to live it.

I fed my senses by listening to the wind, walking outdoors, and taking photographs. It was cold and windy, but bright, and I was dressed warmly when I was outdoors, so it felt safe to participate in a very exposed outdoor venture by myself.

In the evenings, I painted and drew, sometimes listened to music and had a daily sitting meditation.

I felt as though God had watched my feverish preparations and smiled. God gently took all my prepared notes and set them aside and said, “Relax. Let’s just spend a little time together.”

PJP Bob img_4025-0Bob Dueck is a teacher and spiritual director who has studied the Enneagram extensively under the guidance of Carol Ann Gotch and David Walsh. He is a graduate of the Prairie Jubilee Program and the Enntrain Advanced Enneagram Training Workshops. Bob brings to the world a curiosity about all aspects of life and creation, bridging the gap between the sciences and the humanities.


The Jubilee Programs offer training in spiritual direction, spiritual growth and soul development. We explore the contemplative life through spiritual practices including the Enneagram, integration of head/heart/body, silent retreats, “holy listening” in journey groups and contemplative prayer and meditation. Read more about spiritual direction by clicking on our 3 national programs: Ontario Jubilee, Pacific Jubilee, Prairie Jubilee.

If you have any questions or comments about this blog, please be in touch with Dale Bially, Communications for Prairie Jubilee. Email

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