Springtime Mini-Retreats

Springtime Mini-Retreats - text over blue, green, and yellow watercolor image suggesting spring by simonidadjordjevic/iStock/Getty Images

Spring is upon us, and for many of us, the season also comes with more pleasing temperatures and the growth of new plant life in the natural world. While most of us do not have the time to go away on a longer retreat, here are some ideas for how to take an hour or two on a mini-retreat with God.

Whichever option you choose, put aside a set period of time, and turn off the cell phone. If you are able to be alone for the retreat time, that is ideal, but the first option works for busy parents as well.

Nature Walk

Go to a spot of natural beauty, walk at a leisurely pace, and pay attention to your environment. Let go of thoughts and worries, and simply attend to the beauty of plants, flowers, the sky, animals, and anything else that you encounter. You might offer a short prayer of thanks to the Creator of all these goods. At the end of the walk, sit somewhere comfortable, and consider your own goodness and that you, too, are created by God—in God’s own image. Give thanks to God for this. (If you have small children along, invite them to notice and to share with you what they see in the natural world around them. Turn it into a collaborative time of prayer.)

Imaginative Prayer

Choose a comfortable, private spot. Choose a Gospel passage with which to pray, perhaps from Sunday’s readings, or one that resonates with your personal experience right now. Begin, as St. Ignatius suggests, by placing yourself in God’s presence. Notice how Jesus looks at you with love. Slowly read over the passage, close the Bible, and then allow yourself to imagine the scene. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, and textures of the story’s world. Allow the story to unfold and even to go “off-script.” Where are you in the story? How does Jesus act? How do the others present act? When the story feels like it has run its course, end the prayer session. Then journal about the experience, writing as a way of sharing the experience with Jesus, Mary, or a favorite saint. Write about what you experienced and what any moments of consolation (such as peace, freedom, or comfort) felt like. Was there any place you felt God was giving you insight? Pray over these moments, and write about them.

Creativity Inspired by Significant Objects

If you enjoy creative fine arts, choose an object that has spiritual significance for you, and take the time to draw, paint, compose music, or otherwise engage creatively with it. For example, perhaps there is a favorite religious icon, a gift from a treasured family member or friend, or a symbol of an important moment or memory. Use art as an opportunity to pray and to stay with what the object means to you right now. Offer your act of creating to God as you work, and let God be present to you in the process. The point here is to pray, not to perform. I am not a very talented watercolorist, but I enjoy sketching with watercolors for no one but myself, with no pressure to perform well. Perhaps you’d prefer to take a colorful pen and write out words or sentences that express the thoughts or images of your prayer. At the end of the prayer time, set aside the art and the object, close your eyes, and consider where God has been present to you in this time of prayer. What do you want to say to God? What does God want to say in return to you?

For other ideas for an at-home retreat, read An Invitation to Love: A Personal Retreat on the Great Commandment by William Barry, SJ, or First Belong to God: On Retreat with Pope Francis by Austen Ivereigh.


  1. Thanks Marina for these Springtime Mini-treats. Nature Walk, Imaginative Prayer, and Creativity Inspired by Significant Objects – all three contain rich spiritual potential.


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