Women's Retreat Reflection from Kristin Boys
Back in 2012, my days were consumed by pacifiers, potty training and play dates, which fueled my vision for New City’s first women’s retreat. As a young mom, my goal in spearheading the event was simply to get away for the weekend (for my first overnight away from my family). I craved quiet time, spiritual renewal, and rest. What I didn’t plan for was a deeper connection with other New City women.
With seven years of retreats behind me, the years run together in my mind. But the significant moments of connection are clear:
- That time I stood on the outskirts of the campfire circle, the sky turning into inky darkness, chatting with a young woman about art and books. We quickly realized we were kindred spirits, more than 10 years in age apart. She became a fast friend.
- The early evening I sat inside the meal hall waiting for dinner, when the sweetest girl introduced herself as new to the church. She was outgoing, and I pretended to not be shy as I got to know her a bit. Wiser than her young years, she still encourages me with her warmth and words.
- The year I awkwardly led a small group discussion. As we sat in a circle in the foyer of the sleeping cabin, I was so encouraged by a newlywed, clearly in love. With the freshness of young marriage, she was able to remind the rest of us how to love our husbands well.
- The time a new single friend shared with me how encouraging it was to hear my story and how much it helped her change perspective on her current circumstances.
- The small group of mostly old friends sharing war stories of our stay-at-home mom life, and surprising each other with our distorted views of ourselves.
In the words of Pastor Brian, it’s not about the activity, it’s about the relationships. Of course, a speaker is helpful in fueling spiritual growth and topics for discussion. Music allows intentional time for worship. And quiet time is essential for personal reflection. But a retreat is not about whether or not these activities sound appealing; it’s about connection with other women. Some of my retreat retreat-sparked connectections have turned into lasting friendships, while others were just for the weekend. But their purpose was no less meaningful.
I’m not always a “people person.” I’m a shy introvert, happy to spend a whole day alone with a cup of coffee and my own thoughts. But we are all made for connection, for love and relationships, for hospitality and care. Even if it’s not a natural inclination, if I make myself available, connection comes. There is no doubt that I will ever walk away from a retreat without having connected to someone new (or renewing old relationships), probably in a significant way. This year, the retreat team is even cultivating an atmosphere of connection, swapping the traditional Friday night speaking time in favor of allowing space for simple fun and conversation.
Author Sophie Hudson (in her excellent book Giddy Up, Eunice: Because Women Need Each Other) writes that what “matters is responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and recognizing that any opportunity to speak into someone’s life...is a privilege.” Whether you are new to the church and nervous about not knowing anyone or you’re wondering where you possibly have space for more relationships, remember what matters, and consider attending this year’s retreat a privilege.