I'm about to become a hermit. Later this afternoon I'll be leaving Milwaukee, driving about 40 minutes, and beginning my annual eight day retreat. I can't recall ever making my retreat during Advent but it seems like a natural thing to do. I'll be at a small house that my community owns on Lake Five in the beautiful Kettle Moraine country of Southeastern Wisconsin. It's a familiar place where I've gone for other retreats and weekends of quiet.
I give a lot of retreats during the year. It's been said that everyone who gives or directs a retreat ends up making the retreat as well. I've found that to be true, but I also know that I need time for my own retreat. I cannot give what I haven't received.
Beginning my retreat on the eve of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception seems providential. I want to be like Mary, completely open to God's presence and activity in my life. I want to slow down in order to be attentive and open to whatever God wants to do in the coming days. The First Antiphon for the Psalm in today's Office of Readings in the Breviary confirmed this for me: "Surrender to God and he will do everything for you."