Verbmove back or withdraw; withdraw to a quiet or secluded place 

Noun – an act of moving back or withdrawing; a signal for a military force to withdraw; a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax; a period of seclusion for the purposes of prayer and meditation. 

The words that describe 2020 so far seem to be: deluge, onslaught, constant, weariness. It has not been an easy or straightforward year for anyone, it seems. So, when in mid-October the team (at least, most of us) had a chance to go on our annual retreat, we jumped at the chance. 

Aside from the obvious spiritual applications of the definition of “retreat,” the  military” language actually speaks well to how we utilized our time this year. In fact, before we even left for the time of retreat, we discussed how we wanted to use the time as a kind of tactical retreat to focus on unity and rest. This idea and deeply felt need came from continuing some work already being done in the team as we have gathered back together after a summer and spring of disconnection due to Covid-19, and multiple members of the team in Hungary coming and going over the last year. We have all been feeling the effects of constant bombardment and the need to come back together. 

This of course raised the question of how to build a retreat around unity. 

We settled on three seemingly simple yet important ways: how we prepared food, how we spent our free time, and how we used it as time for individual and communal spiritual growth. 

For the most part, whenever we made food on the retreat, we made it as a team. We paired up together to plan our meals ahead of time. This allowed us to express ourselves through food and we got to know each other a little bit better as we prepped and cooked our favorite meals together. As it turns out, the way people prepare food is a tiny window into their souls. We enjoyed a feast of Tex-Mex one night, Thai/Asian noodles and spring rolls another night, and plenty of apple butter, biscuits and gravy, and tasty potato soup. Of course, we also had a variety of delicious desserts and snacks. Our team is comprised of some deep food-lovers, and preparing and sharing meals together was a wonderful way to deepen our unity as we enjoyed each other’s culinary accomplishments and company. 

Free time is always interesting, especially when you gather a mixed group of introverts and extroverts. How do you give people the freedom to do what they want, but try and have them spend time together building unity? The house we stayed in had some quirky additions, so we got to play some black jack on an “official table” (sans betting…), enjoy a marble, spiral staircase, and even admire a strange assortment of swords and masks on the walls. But more than that, the actual space ended up being a blessing, allowing us to gather in the common area and play games together, but also providing space for alone time if people needed it. Some of the highlights of our time together included contentious games of Code Names and Dutch Blitz that featured some yelling and a lot of laughing. Thankfully, we all left as friends, and some of us with a new favorite game. 

The real structure of the retreat came from the spiritual component which consisted of two main pieces: prayer for each other during our devotional time and crafting a rule of life (rhythm of life, practices of life) and going over them together. 

A rule of life is not something that is talked about very often. To understand what a rule of life is, it is important to first understand that everyone already has a rule of life, but not everyone has taken the time to examine what their rule of life actually is. Essentially, it helps you determine how you spend your time and what you allow to shape you. Part of the reason for this focus on the  retreat is because when life is so crazy, refocusing and retreating into a well-structured life can bring its own form of peace and rest—just in knowing that despite all the unknowns there are still some constants. While a person’s rule of life can focus on anything, we worked together to structure our rules around Jesus and how we apprentice to him. 

Before going on the retreat, we had no idea that shortly afterwards the number of Covid-19 cases would drastically increase, and the city would enact stricter guidelines for safety. The retreat, while a bit tiring itself (especially to the introverts like me), was a place that gave life in a time that feels quite lifeless. It gave us time to literally retreat from the busy city of Budapest into a smaller town and take the time to slow down, enjoy each other, and encourage each other as we grow in our spiritual walks. Going on this physical retreat with the team has given me freedom to feel like I can look for abundant life in other areas of my life that might feel grey or downtrodden right now, and build in more time to retreat from the deluge of this year to find a place of peace, a Garden of Eden. 


Nounfreedom from disturbance tranquility, a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended. 

Phrasesat Peace, make peace, keep peace 

By Daniel Buck, OMS Hungary Team Member