By Francis Slobodnik
Today, whether we are fully conscious of it or not, most people experience a sense of disorder deep inside their souls. So many things in life throw our world upside down. We no longer have the order and wholeness that once existed inside society and gave stability and certainty to life. In general, there is a feeling of uneasiness that permeates our culture.
One reason for this uneasiness is the fact that we live under a constant barrage of noise, visual distractions, electronic interference, cell phone calls, text messages and other media. All this creates conditions for very hectic schedules. This creates in us a sound bite way of experiencing life, which inhibits our ability to reflect, read deeply, or even communicate with others beyond a superficial level.
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Sometimes the best way to learn about something is to experience its opposite. To gain a good understanding of just how hectic our lives are, it is the case to seek the experience of a brief return to order in your own soul and the souls of your family members. I would like to suggest a return to order retreat.
How is this done? Try reserving a cabin at a state or national park for a weekend. National or state parks with good facilities are within driving distance of just about everyone.
Ban all electronic devices for the weekend. No cell phones, i-pods, laptops, mp3 players or any other device. Make it just you, your family and peace and quiet. Very quickly you will begin to experience a tranquility that will foster a certain internal clarity and happiness.
Prepare a schedule beforehand. Engage in a few planned conversations together as a family. They don’t have to be deep conversations. Just try communicating together focused on what each says. You could, for instance, print up one of the articles on the Return to Order site (www.ReturnToOrder.org) for a discussion topic.
Put aside some time for quiet reflection. That time can be in the cabin or outside in the form of a trail walk or just sitting quietly taking in the organic sounds of the nature that God created for us to admire as a reflection of His goodness.
Take walks together and even engage in horseback trail riding or canoeing if available. Prepare and consume meals together. If the park allows, light a nice bonfire in the evening while gazing at the stars overhead. Read or tell a beautiful story together by the light of the bonfire. You will be amazed at how much closeness such an activity brings to the family. The natural, internal, ordered structures of self and family will begin to shine through again.
Most importantly, pray together as a family. You can pray walking along paths, near a brook or around the bonfire. Being separated from all of the numerous distractions of life will create a satisfying intensity and focus in family prayer.
Before returning home from the weekend it would be good to speak with one’s family about the richness of the experience. It is very likely that your family will want to repeat this experience annually or perhaps even more often.
Such outings can help one see the need for the return to order in the souls of both individuals and the family. This can create the desire in our souls to reorder our lives.