There are many ways to approach Lent: as a season of penitence and/or conversion, as a time to grow spiritually, etc. This year I’m focusing on the fact that Lent is the Church’s retreat for the entire People of God. Having made a full-time 30 Day Retreat last year, I am actually looking forward to making this Lent as a retreat.
What makes a good retreat?
- The intention to enter fully into the retreat, making our relationship with God central to our day
- Open, listening attitude to God’s Word and work in us
- Extra time and/or a particular focus for our prayer
I want to use this Lent as a retreat not just for my spiritual life, but also for my writing. Here are five great resources for a retreat for creative types:
1. The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life by Vinita Hampton Wright. This wonderful book, which I’ve blogged about before, gives amazing insights into the connection between our spiritual lives and our creative lives. While it’s not a book specifically directed to Lent, reading this book is its own journey and could definitely complement a Lenten focus. Some of the practices that I’ve developed for my writing life are affirmed and deeply explored in this book, such as creating balance, nurturing creativity, forming oneself as a creative artist. The Soul Tells a Story is also much more than a book to read. Each chapter begins with a series of quotations from other writers and ends with a series of writing exercises to deepen the theme of the chapter. Really great for both advanced and beginning writers, the only wish I have for this book is that it had been laid out in a format that gives a bit more space, as the content of each chapter is so rich. (I am very fond of the workbook approach in such books as Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, or How To Handle Worry Workbook: A Catholic Approach by Marshall Cook.)
2. Praying Freedom: A Book of Lenten Meditations by Vinita Hampton Wright. This small book creatively offers a focus for the six weeks of Lent. Each chapter offers a Scripture passage and reflection with questions, an exercise for the reader’s imagination, a practice and prayer for the week. A wonderful resource I look forward to using this year.
3. Daily Reflections for Lent: Not By Bread Alone 2013 by Bishop Robert Morneau. While I haven’t read this yet (it is a new release for 2013!), Bishop Morneau’s reflections always include examples and insights from the arts, particularly poetry and literature. His special emphasis on beauty in his reflections always inspire me.
4. The Power of Small Choices: A Creative Approach to Your Lenten Journey by Hilary Brand. Essentially, this is a five-week Lenten course that uses two amazing films, Shawshenk Redemption and Babette’s Feast to delve more deeply into the Scriptures and focus on the choices that we make in our lives. A wonderful course to do by one’s self or with a group!
5. Seven Last Words by Fulton J. Sheen. It’s been a while since I’ve read this classic, but as one of the best writers and preachers of the 20th century, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s writings continue to help us not only grow in our spiritual lives, but learn how an expert communicates Christ effectively.
What resources have you found that are most helpful to making Lent a time of spiritual and creative growth? I look forward to hearing your suggestions in the comments, as well as your feedback if you decide to use any of the resources I’ve posted about. Your input/feedback may inspire another reader’s Lent!