Monday, April 4, 2016

Retreat Recap: the Worship Services

I am back from a week of 2 retreats.  I had planned to spend the week after Easter with Kathleen Norris at Mepkin Abbey before going to the Create in Me retreat at Lutheridge on Thursday.

Fast forward to the Friday before the Saturday that I was to leave. I had already packed, because it was Good Friday, and I'd be away that night at Good Friday service with duties before and afterward.  I checked my e-mail mid-afternoon to discover that because Kathleen Norris was too sick to travel, the retreat was cancelled.  We were welcome to come and do a private retreat.

I deliberated, but I had already gotten time off from work, and I was packed, and I had friends along the way who were expecting me.  Plus, I had always wanted to be at Mepkin during the week to see what a normal week was like.  So, off I went.

When I told people about my travel plans, many said, “Oh, you’ll miss Easter.” And I had this thought too.

I didn’t think about the fact that I’d be arriving at Mepkin during the “Octave of Easter.”  When I arrived and went to the first worship, Vespers, we had some Easter themes, and I thought, well, of course, it’s Easter Monday.

And then we continued.  I've now celebrated Easter far more frequently than I usually do.

It’s strange to be at Mepkin at the Octave of Easter. The language that got into my head isn’t the pattern that Mepkin usually gives to me. There was an ode to Mary sung several times a day with three verses that ended “the _____ of the Pasch”—each verse filled in the blank differently. And that’s the line that keeps echoing in my head. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s different.

Wednesday, I went to Vigils, the 3:20 a.m. service for the first time ever.  The service itself wasn’t too different: a few more Psalms to sing, an extra Bible reading. The woman who went on Tuesday extolled the virtues of being awake that early, of knowing that the rest of the world is sleeping—but I’m well acquainted with that thrill.

But I’m not usually at the chapel this early. It was a glorious thing, to see the waning moon just beyond the tower built to honor all those who have worked this land, claimed this land, been thrown off this land.

The Create in Me services were much different.  For the prayers of the people, we created banners, and then people wrote prayers on ribbons which they tied on the banners:

And there was the interesting evening service with silks.  We went underneath the silks as we closed the service, and I wanted to linger longer in that space:

Picture by Sara Coffman

And the Eucharist, which I celebrated 4 times last week, along with so many other worship experiences:

Picture by Sue Tyler

It was an amazing week.  Of course, I did more than worship (see this post for a few of the details).  But the worship undergirded all that we did.  I wonder how much of that experience we might be able to translate into "regular life."

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