Saturday, April 30, 2016

Retreat Retrospective

A week ago, I'd have been about to head to Richmond for the women's retreat put together by the women of my mom's church, St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Williamsburg, Virginia.  We went to Richmond Hill, a retreat center in urban Richmond, in a gentrifying neighborhood (or perhaps already gentrified).  Above the door is a reminder of one of the missions of Richmond Hill:

The retreat center is 2 or 3 buildings:  a historic house, a historic church and school, and parts of the building which look newer.

And of course, there are lovely gardens--someone has designed amazing creations in what is actually a very small space for walking gardens.

There's an amazing labyrinth:

I love the old church/chapel, where the community gathers 3 times a day to pray for Richmond and for a variety of other people and places:

The chapel has a wall of historic stained glass windows:

The meeting room, contained in the historic house part of the center, had windows on three sides; it was a great space where we gathered throughout the retreat to discuss parables, to experience contemplative movement, and to make cards that will be sent to parishioners throughout the year.

Along the hallway to the main meeting room were smaller spaces.  Here I am facilitating a workshop on spiritual journaling:

Here's a different meeting room:

My mom used the word "austere" to describe the rooms, which are simple with single use community bathrooms down the hall.  The rooms were spacious and the beds comfortable.   We remade the beds when we were done, and we prayed for the next retreatents as we prepared the room.

The retreat center has 10-16 people who live at the center full-time and take care of it.  The community has elements of a monastic order, although they are not vowed to place and they do not require a lifetime commitment.  There are small apartments for them tucked into various spaces throughout the center.  And there are common spaces; below is the lounge just outside the dining area:

Along the way, we were reminded of the overriding purpose of the retreat center:

And thus renewed, we headed back into the world, to be the light, the salt, the yeast, the city on a hill.

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