Every so often, i like to kick back and relax for a few days, as do many people. Over the last few years, i have done this in April, as a way of winding down after the school year. This year however, i was not able to do that, so found myself pushing that “retreat” back a bit further into the year. That happened to be this week. During the “retreats” in the past, i have typically gone camping at any one of the great campgrounds in the area. This year however, i was not satisfied with doing that, for a number of reasons. And so, I found myself at St. Benedict’s Retreat and Conference Center. I can say honestly that this has been the best personal retreat i have taken yet, and plan to take more at the center.

The hallway where my room was situated, and the room itself:

    

Some pictures of the grounds, including the many types of trees, dead and alive, young and old, that can be found when walking around. St. Benedict’s is located right on the Red River.

They have an outdoor “Stations of the Cross”, with large monuments with bronze plates depicting the different “Stations”…

Stations 1-7... and Stations 8-14.The final Station.

In the same area as the Stations of the Cross was a cemetary, where past Sisters have been buried. I thought it unwise to take any pictures of the cemetary (although i’m not sure why, just felt out of place to do such a thing).

When they told me that they had a Labyrinth though, my heart did a leap for joy. It’s been a while since i’ve walked a Labyrinth, and i’ve always enjoyed it, so i took the time to walk this one.

What you can’t see in these pictures, is the hundreds upon hundreds of dragon-flies that were flying around. There were so many, it was beautiful to watch them cruise around catching bugs, while i walked the Labyrinth.

Overall, i spent a fair bit of time in my room, either reading, or sitting and meditating, or praying, or even napping. But my favorite place on the grounds was along the river, nestled between two oak trees, this simple hammock.

The hammock along the river.

 Yet another shot of the hammock...

And the view looking up from the hammock.

 I cannot put into words how wonderful my time at St. Ben’s was, but being surrounded by the beauty God created, including a number of deer that ended up grazing in the field just outside my room, was just what i needed to renew and refresh myself before the coming year.

And finally, the coolest looking tree i saw at St. Ben’s:

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