Women’s Retreat

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I regularly go on Retreat and sometimes
it is a Silent Retreat.
A day or more of solitary silence is good for the Soul
but
there are other forms of Retreat
and I have just returned from
Women’s Retreat
a gathering of multi-aged congregation-friends
who come together for a spring/summer
weekend retreat
and have been doing so for the last 19 years.

I have been abundantly blessed
by sitting in circle with
these wonderful and wise women!

We always say:
what happens at retreat stays at retreat
and so it is!
but
I can reveal that
we share stories from our lives
we open our hearts to each other
we laugh
we cry
we meditate and pray and sing
as we participate in ritual
we receive encouragement from each other
and we are inspired and challenged by
our Sacred Stories
and by the life of Jesus
because
this unique group of women are friends within Christian faith.

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Our world is full of need
and, in our own ways, and through our congregation
we respond
out of our care and our concern
and because we take Jesus’ commandment
to love others
seriously.

On Retreat, we step back from our work and our service
to take care of ourselves.
Taking care of ourselves is part of the equation.
(love God, love self, love others)

This weekend we gathered in a new place
in the midst of creation.
We camped together on the shore of a lake
in the rain
ha!!
What a blessed, squishy time we had!

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Our gathering circle has dispersed now
until next time
and yet
the hearts of my friends
will be within my heart
until we meet again.

I wonder if you have ever been on Retreat.

I wonder if you have people who join you in Ritual.

I wonder what you might tell (if you could) about
circle-times with like-hearted people.

 

Regrets…

There are many spiritual sayings on-line
and some of them are about
regrets
and many of them say ‘don’t have them’

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and yet
after years of listening to the life stories of people
I know that most of us do have
regrets.

It seems to me that the on-line posts are
over simplifying
or
just trying to make us feel better.
I think that we should not move too quickly by
this deep emotional reality that many of us share.

After living for several decades
it’s pretty hard not to have some
regrets.

Marianne Williamson in ‘A Return to Love’ says:
We all encounter situations in our lives
where we wish we hadn’t done something we did,
or wish we had done something we didn’t.

As I approach my 65th birthday and my retirement
I look back and see
many wonderful moments and relationships and good life-decisions
but scattered therein are some
regrets.

I can’t undo the situations I regret.
Whatever has happened is now part of me.
And so, when I read this poem by Joyce Rupp
I thought to myself
yes
here is the deeper spiritual reality that comes with
examining your life
to see and to learn
and then to step forward with a greater wisdom.

I am experiencing the inner freedom
of looking squarely in the eye of my regret
to learn from it
not sweep it under the carpet
but see it
and then
let it be.

‘The Hungry Lion’ by Joyce Rupp
in “Fly While You Still Have Wings”

Regret
stalks like a hungry lion,
invading memories,
devouring joy
while recrimination
drools with satisfaction.

It is time
to tame the hungry lion
with self-forgiveness,
accept the truth
of having done one’s best,
move beyond remorse
and the futility
of trying to change the past.

Turn inward
toward a love bigger than regret,
stride up to the hungry lion,
sniff the rancid breath
of ‘could have, would have,
should have, ought to have,’
and all the wishes of how to undo
what was, or what was not done.

Take a deep inhalation,
look the hungry lion in the eye,
let out a long, cleansing sigh
and welcome the freedom
that comes with letting go.

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Family Tables

These two tables are important in my life.

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A couple of years ago we did a reno of our kitchen so that
this long table could fit into our home.
As partners have come into our family
a bigger table was needed.

I LOVE family meals!
I love having family all seated around this table
eating and talking…talking and eating.
My place
is at the head of this table where I can look down it full length
and see everyone
and seeing everyone together
makes me so very happy!

On June 24th, our son was married and we had 12-30 people seated at / around / close to
this table
for seven wonderful days.
We ate breakfasts, lunches and suppers together.
The food was simple and abundant.
The wedding week is over now…everyone has left and so
this table
sits quietly awaiting their return
but the energy of this recent
table fellowship
resounds within our home
and I am still feeling very happy.

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This is the Communion Table of the church I have served for nineteen years.
I LOVE family meals
where 50, 80, 150 or more people make their way to this table
to receive the simple food of bread and wine.
For years,
I have stood at this Table and watched
as my church family has come forward:
some quietly; some chatting;
some with children in arms;
some offering their arm to another;
and I have smiled to see them all at this table.

Communion invites people to partake in the
table fellowship
that remembers Jesus saying:
Come and eat with me
and when you do
remember me.

So I have remembered that
Jesus crossed barriers of race and culture and age.
I have remembered that
he ate with the secure and the insecure, the accepted and the rejected.
Come, he said, eat with me.

My church has an
Open Table
which means that there are no rules about
who can come (or not).
If you sense some sort of inner hunger
just come.

For years I have stood at this Table and said:
whether you are young or old
whether you a part of this congregation or visiting
whether you come to church all the time or are here for the very first time
YOU ARE WELCOME
at this Table.

It’s called
radical hospitality.
We get to know each other as we eat together
and
we need to know each other.

The Communion Table shows us a way to be in the world.
The Communion Table of Open Table Fellowship
shows us a way of family-neighbourhood-world hospitality.

I wonder
if you have a Table that offers you an hospitable welcome.
I wonder
if you have a place where simple food is shared and love is felt.
I wonder
if you have a view of family and friends
the invited guest
the unexpected guest
experiencing life together
around a Table?

Our world can be changed…one Table at a time.

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Jubilee … an image

 

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Spiritual Direction
allows for one’s own knowledge and wisdom to emerge.

Recently, while meeting with my Director
she re-stated some things I’d told her about this next year in my life
which will mark a completion and a separation
a new time
unlike any other I’ve experienced
and something she said brought forth my exclamation of
‘it will be a Jubilee Year’!

To explain requires reference to The Hebrew Scriptures
and an ancient vision of having a
Year of Jubilee
every fifty years.
“You shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty
throughout the land to all its inhabitants;
it shall be a jubilee for you;
you shall return, every one of you,
to your property and every one of you to your family.”
Leviticus 25

This was to be a societal and political year
as well as a personal year.
History has no evidence that this large community-nation vision ever happened
to this degree of fullness
yet
we can hold it as
a vision of a time as further explained in scripture
when debts (things from the past) are let go of
and
the bindings that have held us are cut so that we experience a new freedom
and
there is a home-coming
a returning to home
whether to geographic-place or to Self or to both.

The fiftieth year…well…
I can’t be too tied to exactness because I’m well past my fiftieth year
(actually nearing age sixty-five)
but to be caught in this exactness is to miss the essential point
that there are exceptional times in life
and one of them might be
A Year of Jubilee
which, for us ‘moderns’ will need to be a chosen and intentional time
because it isn’t dictated and it doesn’t just happen
but
it might be possible
if we choose to make it ‘be so’.

I am revisiting a book I purchased when I was turning fifty
because it is about women reaching an age of maturity
and entering into a new phase of living.
I read it back then but didn’t practice it
but now
my attention to Maria Harris’s words of wisdom is keener
and so
I will be pondering
JUBILEE
as a guiding metaphor
for my newly emerging life experience.

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Of interest is the root word for ‘Jubilee’
yobel
a Hebrew word translated as
‘trumpet’
and in this ancient culture
a ram’s horn sounded to announce the time of Jubilee with celebration and rejoicing.
Another source word is
ybl
which means a royal release from bondage
and a bringing back.

images

JUBILEE
a time for
release
return
forgiveness / letting go
celebration

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Have you ever entered into a defined year?
Perhaps a year without employment
or a year of travel
or a year of needed rest?
I wonder how that was / is for you?

the threshold

Threshold: a Dictionary definition
-the plank, stone, or piece of timber that lies under a door; sill
-the end, boundary; the place or point of entering or beginning

I recently reflected with my congregation
about the threshold.

We walk over many each day
have you ever noticed?

The threshold in and out of home
in and out of work
in and out of a coffee shop, place of recreation, a friend’s home.

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They are everywhere in the literal sense
of movement
from one room to the next and from outside to inside
and back again

and they are everywhere in the internal sense
of movement
from one phase of life to another.

My threshold is the movement from work to retirement.
I am in a crossing-over time.

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This image, once spoken out loud, brought forth many threshold stories from others
the movement
from marriage to single life
from student to workplace life
from couple life to parenting life
and on and on.

How do we navigate the significant thresholds of our lives?
Do we notice that we are in a ‘threshold’ time?
Do we cross over too quickly so as to be unaware
of the importance of this step
or
do we stall and plant our feet stubbornly saying
I’m not
or
I can’t
or
I won’t
take this step
make this step?

Well…I have been resistant…but my foot is lifting and it’s not as heavy
as it once was.
The movement is happening…sort of in slow motion
but it’s happening.

NOTICE your thresholds.
PONDER your times of crossing over.

SILENCE

I have recently had an experience of following my own advice.
When in the midst of a life transition and sensing confusion or worry
or a feeling of being overwhelmed
I often name to others
the importance of finding a quiet place to contemplate.
I say
Take the time / make the time to reflect…

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and so
I DID
what I advise to others.

I was pretty exhausted from lots and lots of work
and living with the inner disturbance of retirement ahead of me
and time going by too quickly
so I greatly benefited from a Retreat
and from resting within Silence
and from walking and writing

and something shifted in me
I felt it!

In the writing of memories of ‘work’
in reflecting on the wonders and the stresses
of congregational ministry
I realized how fortunate I have been
to have met such a diversity of people
and how privileged I have been
to be part of their life transitions
(losses and joys, pains and celebrations)

and the shift within me was from
a sense of pending loss with accompanying grief
to a sense of deep gratitude
for what has been.

Isn’t it interesting how a new feeling
can be dwelling within
yet underneath the surface?

Isn’t it interesting how the busy-ness of life can bury
what is really there
until
SILENCE
works her magic
to allow our deeper heart-feelings to emerge?

5690579._UY450_SS450_     “our task is to coordinate our being with the greater Being of Silence”

“(Silence) never goes away. We go away from it,
become distracted and forgetful,
and lose the manners needed to nurture companionship with it.”

The Labyrinth…a walk to Centre

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    About a dozen years ago, Eric and I made
    a Labyrinth.
    It’s on a 32 by 32 foot piece of canvas
    and we spent hours and hours on our knees drawing and painting the 13 circuits
    of The Chartres Labyrinth
    so that people from our congregation and community
    could experience this
    meditative walk
    and
    slow
    movement
    to the
    Centre.

    If you have never walked a Labyrinth
    and an opportunity comes your way
    step on.

    The circuits of the Labyrinth will take you to a quiet place –
    the rose in the middle
    where you can stand or sit or kneel or lay down
    (I have watched people do all of the above)
    and just
    be.

    I’m thinking of The Labyrinth this week because I will be setting it out soon
    for our annual walk into Holy Week (a Christian ritual of pilgrimage)
    although most of the people who come
    are not walking with this intention
    but rather out of their own personal need
    to
    find
    a quiet place
    in the busy life we lead.

    Life is a journey and the ‘journey’ metaphor is used often
    to describe the twists and turns along life’s path
    and the walking or trudging
    that each of us must do
    from morning to night
    from week to week
    from year to year.

    When you walk the Labyrinth
    you may be surprised by the unexpected curves
    that send you walking in a direction
    you did not expect.
    Life.
    When you walk the Labyrinth
    you may be surprised by how long it feels at times
    or
    by how quickly it all goes by.
    Life.
    When you walk the Labyrinth with a group of people
    you may be surprised by how you are all close together for awhile
    and then, suddenly, you are off by yourself.
    Life.
    When you walk the Labyrinth
    you may be surprised by how ‘ok’ it is to spend time alone
    even tho’ some people may be alone with you
    in this place of
    intentional solitude.

    One of the things that spiritual practices invite us to
    whether
    mindful walking, meditation, prayer, lectio, journalling etc etc etc
    is
    the opportunity of separation from busy-ness and do-ing
    so as to
    self reflect
    ponder
    breathe
    be still.

    I am looking forward to my walk later this week.
    Life has been full lately
    and my mind has been taken over
    with worries of congregation;
    the life realities of people I know;
    and my own life
    and transition into retirement.

    It’s time for me to take this walk.

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    public Labyrinths are available in most cities although some are outdoors
    so they are seasonal

    labyrinthlocator.com
    can assist you in finding a labyrinth near you

    for information
    veriditas.org