The idea of a manmade sanctuary for the exclusive purpose of solitude, fasting, and prayer is not new. It goes as far back as the 300’s AD with the birth of the monastery. Before monasteries, those seeking solitude were inexorably drawn into desolate empty places. The desert sun served as a tangible catharsis on the backs of seekers desperate to connect with their God. Jesus, Elijah and Moses are well known for their retreats alone into the desert fasting, coming face to face with Yahweh, spiritual foes and the limits of their own mortality.
During the hard bumps that life can deal out everyone has romanticized the idea of retreating away from society. Maybe it has nothing to do with hardship. It may be that you have been focused on such a busy lifestyle that when you weren’t looking you turned into all the things you once hated. We humans are not created to function in a constant state of hectic busyness. The seeker within cries for some time to untangle from strangling co-dependent relationships and a legion of addictions that all crowd out the spiritual person deep within.
Hectic lives have physical side-effects too. Fast food, lack of exercise and a constant state of stress take its gradual toll. Often people come to a fasting retreat as a last resort, toxic, sick and obese. Fasting retreats are not only a place of healing and detoxification but a period of time to step back and take stock, making long overdue health changes that will affect the future for the better.
The desire for withdrawing begins with a sense of inner detachment, disconnection with creativity, you and God, and finally detachment with the world around. Disconnection results in mindlessly performing robotic tasks, all the while the seeker within calls for nourishment. Ignore that call and the outcome will be a lost identity resulting in a profound sense of meaninglessness and depression, physically manifested in sickness and disease.
Related Article: Why Fasting Retreats?