Historically, the word "retreat" has military associations; it is the tactic troops use when they are losing ground, when they are tired and ineffective, when their current strategy isn't working or when they have too many casualties. Retreating for the military is about pulling back and putting some distance between themselves and the battle line. It is associated with defeat which sounds negative but it can be a wise tactic; it is an opportunity for rest, tending to wounds, stopping momentum, and stepping back to re-orient and come up with a new strategy. Can this apply to you as well? I am told that the military is adopting a new term with more positive connotations: "strategic withdrawal." It conveys intentionality and suggests that the better part of wisdom includes stepping back.
The word "retreat" has also become popular within the business world. A business retreat can feel like being held captive at a long meeting, or it can be a strategic planning session held at a desireable off-site location or even a conference-like event that is packed full of teaching and fellowship. These can be nice opportunites for building community and focusing attention, but they are also more stimulating than they are restful. The church offers retreats of this nature as well.
Alternatively Jesus taught "Come away with me and rest for awhile." Was that because he is a jealous friend who doesn't want to share you? I don't think so! I do however think that it has something to do with wanting you to "have the eyes to see and the ears to hear." From a neuroscience perspective, this shift can only come from extended periods of generous availability. Agenda-driven living and "retreats" that I have described, keep you functioning from the same parts of the brain that you are usually using. To "have the eyes to see and the ears to hear" requires accessing brain regions that can only be accessed from a mind at rest.
Reclaiming retreat as "strategic withdrawal"...
Do you need rest? Do you have wounds that need tending to? Are you caught up in the momentum of life? Would you be better able to live into abundance, hope and purpose if you were to step back and re-orient?