Finding Purpose in Rest: My Experience at the Protestant Ministry Retreat

By Aidan Munroe (C’27)

Aidan Monroe and his fellow students

Aidan Munroe (C’27), first row, second from the left with his fellow students.

Going into the Protestant Ministry Retreat, I had just finished another hectic week on the Hilltop. Knowing that the retreat was centered around the theme of rest, I was eager to find a better way to approach daily life and my time at Georgetown. 

One moment from the retreat that stuck out to me occurred in the evening, after we had finished our scheduled activities. Some friends and I found ourselves in possession of some coloring books, coloring utensils, and the music of our conversation. I decided to relax and sit with my friends while completing an unexpectedly relaxing activity: coloring. This moment stood out to me because, in it, I recognized that there are various forms of rest that are key to caring for the whole person. I usually think of myself as an introvert who does most of their healing and relaxation in solitude; however, this evening, I found a lot of enjoyment in being in a low stakes social setting with only a few friends. Going into the retreat, I thought I had a fairly good idea of what I would need to feel rested and rejuvenated after a long week of work. Coloring with friends was not at the top of my list! Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy being alone at times, but my mind was opened to exploring other ways of resting that aren’t done in isolation. This helped me realize that being in touch with yourself and your emotions can be key to finding what forms of rest may be most conducive to your mental health.

Students and Rev. Ebony Grison sitting in a circle during a group reflection exercise

Rev. Ebony Grisom, director for Protestant Ministry (top, left), leads students in a discussion.

I also realized, while reflecting on the retreat, how few opportunities I have given myself to rest during the regular academic week. The retreat invited us to consider what rest looked like, and how each of us might find a better way to move through the world in light of it. I came to realize that rest—like any invitation—must be accepted. Opportunities for rest appeared to me at various times throughout the day, but upon reflection, I realized that I rarely took up these opportunities, often thinking of that time as indispensable for other activities. Being in the serene, quiet setting of the retreat in the Virginia mountains – away from the constant hustle and bustle of campus life – gave me the perspective that rest is not just helpful, but rather an indispensable aspect of living a healthy life. The retreat gave me the chance to engage with other students, as well as with Rev. Grisom and Rev. Toney, so that I could press pause on the hectic schedule of my life, and recognize that there is a better way to enjoy my time at Georgetown. 

I came away from the retreat with a new resolution on life: I was done just trying to ‘make it to the end of the week.’ I decided that I wanted to enjoy every day. The perfect timing of this retreat – at the end of my freshman year – made me realize just how quickly my undergraduate experience would pass by if I did not pay attention to it. When reflecting on my time in college, I don’t want my memory of this incredible opportunity to just be a stressful blur of readings, tests, and papers. From this retreat, I learned to choose contentment in community and to find ways to nourish my mind and spirit through greater attention to rest; this is how I will make these next four years of life as meaningful as possible.

Aidan Munroe (C’27) is studying Sociology, Black Studies, and Environmental and Sustainability Science.

Photos courtesy of Rev. TauVaughn Toney, Protestant Christian Chaplain