A Reflection on a Retreat in Isolation by Theresa Denny

A Reflection on a Retreat in Isolation by Theresa Denny

COVID days … isolation … only leave home to exercise or go to the supermarket … no tennis or yoga … no face-to-face spiritual direction/supervision or delivery of prayer sessions, nor attendance at church. Strange times indeed being cut-off from various communities, especially my spiritual groups. I had a strong sense of being denied what I considered to be ‘an essential service.’

At the same time though, this COVID-19 time has given me the opportunity to become more reflective and disciplined. I’ve joined various spiritual Zoom sessions to revive my weary spirit and participated in the Field Hospital training sessions by Fr Michael Hansen SJ. I’d recently described how I felt as a sponge soaking up the goodness of God in many new and different ways. Then, in the middle of September, I was asked if I’d be interested in facilitating an eight-day group retreat with daily individual spiritual direction via Zoom to religious sisters in Darwin. Somewhat daunting from various aspects: being the host for Zoom and the fact that I’d only done 2–4 days retreats and that daily input was expected. It didn’t take long though to realise this was what I’d been prepared for and that the Spirit would continue to work in and through me during this retreat.

After prayer and discernment various Exercises were chosen from The Field Hospital Exercises suite, for the eight days, for the retreatants. The daily themes built upon each other and gave the retreatants (and me) much food for thought. The themes chosen, in order of delivery were: Accepting Quiet, Greater Faith, Greater Love, Greater Joy, Breathe of Life, Seeking Clarity, Becoming Light, Igniting Heart, Releasing Energy and Spirit of Service (Reaching Out). As the retreatants were familiar with Ignatian Spirituality, they were encouraged to use various forms of prayer over these days. Closer to the final days I suggested that they use some creative means to express how God worked in them during their retreat.

At the concluding ritual I was treated to three very individual expressions of how God spoke to each retreatant. In addition to this I was serenaded with a selection of songs in English and Spanish. Oh, such harmony – the voice of angels. I was truly touched and such a fitting conclusion to this shared time of retreat.

This was a time of enlightenment for the four of us. God reminded me once again that when I am truly present, and open, he works within and through me – late nights of preparation with so many thoughts filtering through my mind for the daily input sessions and present when I woke next morning to clarify/confirm ways to move forward.

The Spirit was truly present in the four of us during these days of togetherness and sharing.


Written by JISA Spiritual Director Theresa Denny from Gippsland in Victoria, a member of the Emmaus Spirituality Ministry and JISA Campion.
If you would like to explore Spiritual Direction, Ignatian Spirituality and the Spiritual Exercises including the Field Hospital Exercises, contact Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Australia on 1300 EXAMEN (1300-392-636)or info@jisa.org.au.