Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Planning a Retreat I Won't Attend

This past week-end, we took one of our whirlwind trips to North Carolina--for more on the trip itself, see this post on my creativity blog.

We went primarily because my spouse needed to be at Lutheridge for a finance subcommittee (for the larger Novus Way Board of Trustees) meeting.  Fortuitously, the retreat to plan the Create in Me retreat was happening at the same time.

What made it a strange experience is that I won't be at the retreat itself.  My absence is no reflection on the retreat--on the contrary, it sounds like it will be a great retreat.

I was happy to be at this retreat to plan the retreat for a variety of reasons.  It's always a great group of people, even as the individuals come and go and come again.  Seeing us all in a room makes me happy.  Realizing how long I've known them astonishes me.

It also makes me want to dream big.  I joked about wanting Lutheridge to create a retirement community so that we could spend our golden years having a Create in Me retreat year round.  But I wasn't really joking.

On Friday night, we had a great Bible study session;  this year's theme is "Jesus and Justice."  We explored passages from Isaiah and corresponding passages from the New Testament.  Our group was about 1/3 people with seminary training and/or rigorous reading in academic religious materials.  The rest of the group has gotten substantial education through churches and other arenas.  So we had a vigorous discussion.

In fact, we had such a vigorous discussion that we got off schedule--but what a wonderful reason to get off schedule.  We looked at passages about dimly burning wicks and bruised reeds.  We looked at different translations that talked about lifting up the oppressed--in some translations, it was "the poor," instead of the oppressed, and I prefer the older translation.  We talked about pathways being made wide and the crooked ways made straight.  I was transfixed by the passage that talked about binding the broken-hearted.

The poet in me was intrigued by the way the different words can be used:  binding can be a healing bandage or a constricting force, and to level can be good or bad.  Lots of potential.

So, we didn't do the arts meditation on Friday night but on Saturday morning.  We were given a 3 inch pillar candle, a reed, a Sharpie marker, and a roll of masking tape.  We wrapped the candle in masking tape, a surprisingly soothing experience.  We had to somehow incorporate the reed but not break it.

When we were done, we wrote words of injustice on the tape.  Some people wrote general words, like "unloved" and "despair."  Some wrote words like "trafficking" and "racism."  I wrote words like "student loans" and "Holocene extinction."

And then we lit the candles.  Eventually they will burn down and have an interesting effect.  The light shines through the words to remind us that the light is not overcome by the injustice.

We spent the rest of the day talking about the schedule and ways to make it more effective.  We talked about anything special that we need to have because of the theme.  We planned the worship service.

I'll be sad to miss the retreat, but I was glad to be able to help to make it a great retreat for those who will be there.  Before we started doing this approach to retreat planning, I wouldn't have dreamed that a retreat to plan a retreat could be almost as nourishing as the retreat itself.

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