Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Retreat at Richmond Hill

This past week-end, I was helping to lead a retreat at Richmond Hill, a fascinating retreat center and intentional community, in Richmond, Virginia.  A group of women from my mom's church, St. Stephen's Lutheran in Williamsburg, Virginia, had an overnight retreat, and they asked me to lead the Bible study plus to lead a workshop on spiritual journaling.  In days to come, I will likely return to the week-end to think about parts of it in more depth; let me give an overview today.

--The retreat center is really interesting--it was started by 6 nuns who came to start a monastery and a school for girls just after the Civil War.  Now there are people who live there in intentional, ecumenical, Christian community, and one of their missions is to pray for Richmond.

--Parts of the building felt very modern.  It's been retrofitted for handicapped accessibility in interesting ways, and the windows let the light stream in the main meeting room.  But every so often I'd go up a creaky staircase with steps that had been worn in the middle, and I'd remember how old parts of the facility are.

--The retreat started at 9:00 on Saturday morning.  I was amazed that the church had 39 women signed up for this retreat, women of all ages.

--It was a great group, very participatory and open to different approaches to the parables.  I was prepared for anything, but hoping for this kind of group.

--My journaling workshops went well--the first group had already been doing different types of journaling, and the second group hadn't done as much.  But both groups were interested in the subject, and both workshops went well.

--The schedule was intense--not much unstructured time, as is suitable for such a short retreat.  I told my mom that I could go at that pace for a day, but not for six days.  Of course, if it had been a longer retreat, maybe there would have been more down time.  I was impressed that the women were up for the intense schedule.

--In addition to Bible Study and workshops, we had a community service project, making cards that will be sent to various people through the coming year, a great group project for people with varying skills.  We had a hymn sing on Saturday night and worship opportunities throughout the week-end.

--We were welcome to meet with the intentional community to pray with them 3 times a day.  I found those times meaningful in a different way.  One of the community members gave us an introduction to the site and told us that the community had been praying for us for the week before we arrived and would be praying for us for the week after we left.  I found that idea very moving.

--In addition to praying with the community, we had two great services of our own, Compline and Sunday morning Eucharist. 

--I loved the sanctuary--very 19th century, with lots of stained glass windows.  But also contemporary.

--In short, it was a wonderful week-end of renewal.  I am so glad that I was part of it.


vicki said...

a very good friend of mine just moved to Richmond Hill in February to live in the intentional community with her husband, who recently was named a co-pastoral director there. small, small world.

Kristin said...

A small world indeed--I think it was that husband who led us in Sunday morning prayer and song, a beautiful experience!