Tuesday, August 2, 2011

(Day 50) A day of prayer, eating, walking, conversing and reflection...

The path to
Deep Creek
What a gift this day has been.  Arising with the sun filtering through the trees knowing that I had time and space to "just be" was a gift in and of itself... and it was hard to receive it knowing that others continue to carry the burden of daily living at home.

The Collins Retreat Centre is such a welcoming place.  Each room has its own bathroom and the Director and Program Director, the Cook and all the staff are all so attentive to your needs.  Our meal on Sunday evening was turkey shepherds pie, roasted corn in balsmic vinegar and a salad with Day Lilies as a garnish!  Such attention to detail.

The Chapel with the large
window through which you may gaze
in worship.
Evening worship was of course in the Taizé tradition, with many sung responses punctuated with significant times of silence - all of this as we watched the light fade in the forest through the large window through which we looked past the altar space.

Breakfast this morning was quiche, peppered bacon, oatmeal, fresh local fruit and and fresh blueberry muffins - with non-dairy and vegetarian alternatives for those so requiring them.  Each meal is served family style and conversation flows freely around the two round tables as we share stories and bits of ourselves with each other.  A number of us are ordained and are finding it relaxing to be in the presence of other gifted leaders and not have any leadership responsibilities.

Deep Creek
Following breakfast this morning we shared again in worship in the Taizé tradition.  There was a thread of water that ran through the prayers and sung responses and I was captivated by the words of one of the responses.  It touched something deep inside me.  Written by Thomas Troeger it is a deeply moving melody with equally engaging lyrics.

Water, River, Spirit, Grace sweep over me, sweep over me!
Re-carve the depths your fingers traced in sculpting me.

Worship was followed by a time of community Bible study in the tradition of Lectio Divina.  The text for the morning was the story of Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-6)
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.  Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.”  When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”  He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
"Turning aside"
Looking down...
I was drawn to the phrases "beyond the wilderness" and "when the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see".  What is the place "beyond the wilderness"?  What is it to lead the flock there?  Is all that is required of us to meet God is to turn aside?  To stop, pay attention and be mindful?  I confess, I am not used to the length of silence that this retreat invites us to... but thus far I have found it to be a healthy place to be - drawing myself back again and again to a centring focus.

"Turning aside"
Looking up...
Our next time together was a workshop on planning and staging the worship space for a Taizé worship service - creating beauty that allows participants to enter into a worshipful place.  Laural, the Program Director offered some great tips that can be incorporated into staging any space as welcoming and inviting and conducive to the task of mindfulness.  Thanks Laural.

Following lunch (a wonderful salad together with a roasted spaghetti squash and chicken soup) I felt drawn to the water - perhaps given my deep connection to the sung response this morning... so, I set off on one of the trails that led to Deep Creek - a stream that runs through the property.  Unfortunately, I did not adequately anticipate the distance or the constant changes in elevation.  By the time I returned and had a shower I was 15 minutes late for the Eneagram Workshop.

I have had a little exposure to the concept of the eneagram and its use as a personality type indicator and found this this first session led by Barbara Nixon, a pastor in a Methodist Church in Boise, ID was very enlightening.  It was interesting to listen as folk attempted to "discern their number" and to wrestle with my own "number" knowing full well that others see me differently then I see myself.  Have a look here.  See what you think?  Am I a 3 or a 9?  I will continue to explore this.  Barbara said it is key to look backwards into your teenage years to get a clearer picture of your type - your dominate preference as we all have come to places of maturity.  Interesting.  A new way of trying to understand myself and those around me - especially in regard to how I disintegrate and what it looks like when I am integrated...  if you want to know more or have a sense that I am a different number/type, drop me a note.

The conclusion of the eneagram workshop meant that we had some free time before the next Lectio Divna session and I took advantage of that time to sit and write in my journal - thinking about all that had been shared thus far and giving thanks for the gift of this time.

On about 4PM we came together again to share our contemplations from the mornings Lectio Divna session.  It was deeply humbling to hear how others experienced the text and to be aware of the connection that flowed among us with common threads of awe, wonder, mystery, concern for community and awareness of the needs of the world.

As we sat on the deck sharing, the aroma of our dinner welcomed us into the dinning room where the Chef had prepared another feast: Beans and rice with pineapple salsa, braised kielbasa in a red wine reduction, spinach salad in a strawberry vinaigrette with rhubarb and strawberry crisp for dessert.  Wow!  I am so glad I am not on a diet!!

This evening we gathered for prayer once again - songs and responses interwoven with a thread of creation - that mysterious place where we meet God and God meets us.

I understand that tomorrow our routine will follow a similar pattern with even a little more time for personal reflection.
What is the place "beyond the wilderness"?
What is it to lead the flock there?
Is all that is required of us to meet God, to simply turn aside?  To stop, pay attention and be mindful?  
Perhaps this evening and tomorrow will call forth even more questions...  as I continue to ponder what it is to have God re-carve the depths... on the Sabbath Road...

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