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Retreat and Rest

Retreat and Rest

The fire dances on the wall as I fall asleep. I hear the rustling wind and the deep silence of a country night. For this one night, no children need me to put them to sleep, or take them to the bathroom. No dishes or toys need to be picked up. For this one night, I immerse myself in words.


Earlier I sat at a desk pushed against a window. Looking out I saw green everywhere dotted with bright purple spring buds. A chorus of birds sang to me. The frogs called me to visit them at the nearby pond. On the desk I have notebooks and journals, my bible, colored pens, a water bottle, and chocolate.


The pages call to me.

The words swirl in my head.

The thrill of uninterrupted time brings me joy.  


I’m no stranger to retreats and taking time to get away for rest and renewal. I love gathering with others creating sacred space to share stories and reflect on God’s work in our lives. But for the first time this year I took a personal retreat. I called it my creative retreat, time for writing and reading. Getting away for 24 hours with my main requirement being that I needed a chair and desk in the room to write.


Just over an hour away, I found my destination called Sappatu, meaning rest and Sabbath. Built into this space was exactly what I needed: space to breathe deeply, space to be with my thoughts, space to dwell in God. I had a delightful cabin with a wood burning stove, meals delivered to me, and acres of land to explore.


In our 24-hour-news-cycle world of constant connection, messages, texts, and social media, the chances to disconnect have been few and far between for me. Yet, I know I need to disconnect. I need the opportunities to remember who I am separate from my social media pictures and posts. I need moments of solitude to listen for God’s voice. I need undistracted hours of writing to understand God’s spirit at work in my life.


But ultimately, I need to rest.


As do so many of us. Rest feels so countercultural when everything else seems to tell us to get more and do more and be more. Our schedules fill up in the blink of an eye and vacations get pushed off to someday. For many even getting to Sunday services proves difficult. Yet, God’s voice still calls to us: Come and rest in me. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, NIV)


To be honest, it took my family and I months to get the my one night away scheduled and planned due to weather and changing schedules. But we made it happen. And now I need to remember to continue to seek out pockets of rest in my day-to-day life:  an early morning to myself with a few deep breaths, shutting off the computer and phone at night, a good book on the porch, walks with my children listening to the birds, and opening my Bible.


Come and rest. Wherever you are in whatever way you can. In the moments of rest and renewal may you know God’s presence and love with you.   


Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: or follow her work on Facebook:  



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