Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Retreat Highlights in a Spiritual Hue

A week ago, I was getting ready to head off to my retreat:  the Create in Me retreat that I've attended each year since 2002 (gulp!  is it really 2014 already?  And almost May?  double gulp!).  Every year, I return refreshed and renewed.  This year is no different.
Let me record some of the spiritual highlights of the past week.  For a general overview, see this blog post on my creativity blog.

--I saw friends along the way, friends who ministered to me in ways they may not have even realized.  For one thing, they took time out of their busy lives to see me.  For another, we had time to listen and connect.  One of my friends said, "It's been a tough year for you.  I'm surprised you're upright."  That care and concern--and just the acknowledgement of my sorrows--it's amazing what a difference that can make.

--We had great worship, as we always do.  I feel lucky to be part of a church where I can bring some of these ideas back.

--We had amazing Bible study led by a seminary professor.  The study was less Bible and more theological musing about recent findings about the universe and what those astronomy lessons mean for our theological thoughts on creation and redemption.  I will be writing more about this later, but for here, let me just say how progressive it was, how intellectual, what a great demonstration of how faith and intellect can inform each other and enrich each other.

--The professor who led our Bible study is an amateur astronomer who takes pictures of galaxies and all sorts of stellar beauty.  The Bible study had such wonderful slides.

--He also brought his telescope, and we were able to see the vastness of the universe for ourselves.  By day, we were surrounded by all sorts of beautiful nature, including glorious dogwoods.  How wonderful to be reminded of the Creator at every turn.

----I did stretching every morning, a modified yoga class--wonderful.  Again, it was good to be reminded of this gift of a body that's in relatively good health.  I thought about the first time I did a stretching class at the retreat and how that experience led me to the Wellness Center where I'm still a member.  I thought about how much more limber I've become.  I took comfort from remembering that small movements can lead to big changes.

--Likewise, it was good to remember that there are so many ways to create, many of which take just a smidge of time.  It was good to play with cloth and then to give that cloth away.  It was good to make things.  It was good to enjoy the sight of so many of us making things.

--Since we're so many of us Lutherans and many of us went to camp for many years, we were inclined to sing at the least prompting.  And then, people would harmonize--what a treat!

--We had parents bring their children this year, so we had several children at the retreat, which was fun too.

--It was good to be with like-minded people along the way, people who don't need extensive explanations for why we're doing what we do.  I often forget how tiring it is to be with people who only get part of the picture.

--And it's good to remember that I often feel alone and lonely and like no one understands--but that's often a false emotion.  My brain, especially its emotional core, is not always my friend.

--Again and again, we came back to the basic Easter message of hope and resurrection and the firm belief that death will not have the final word.  In this Lent (year?) of many cancers, it's a message I needed to have repeated.

--Now, as I head back to "normal" life, it's good to have had some perspective restored.  I so often get bogged down in negativity about stuff that won't really matter the following week.  I think it's time to return to the spiritual practice of keeping a gratitude journal.

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