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The Deacon's Bench

Mike “Googling God” Hayes, over at Busted Halo, is offering some helpful ideas for people who find themselves cash-strapped this summer. My personal favorite: retreats. Take a look:

Retreats (findthedivine.org, charisretreats.org) are often great ways to get back in touch with oneself and God. On week-long retreats, typically mornings are dedicated to some kind of retreat programming or prayer, while afternoons are free for you to do as you please. Take a nature walk or a boat ride — as retreat houses are often in rather bucolic settings. I’ve found deer and other wildlife on the property of a few of my favorite houses. Weekend retreats are often more intense, with shorter periods of free time. Silent retreats usually have no formal programming, but allow you the opportunity to meet with a spiritual director to talk through where you might be finding or struggling to find God in your life, then spend the remainder of the time in quiet reflection.

You also might want to use monasteries or women’s religious communities for lodging in certain cities, especially in Europe. You can end up finding a simple room in the heart of a city for a fraction of the cost of even a badly furnished hotel. Sometimes, even meals are included in the price of your stay, and you might even be able to exchange manual labor or professional services for a stay in the house. A friend of mine recently did some landscaping at a women’s religious beach house in exchange for a stay there during Memorial Day weekend. He worked in the early morning hours and had much of his day free to catch some rays and parasail.

Check out the rest. Good stuff. And cheap!

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