Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Retreat Practices that Come Home to Dwell with Us

On Sunday, I spent almost two hours trying to use Skype to join a planning session for the 2017 Create in Me retreat.  The sound was never right, but I did get to answer a few questions.  Then my computer froze, and after 15 minutes of wondering if Skype might correct itself, it took me 30 minutes to fix that.  I tried to sign on to Skype again--another freeze, with another 45 minutes to correct/connect--and then I couldn't get the Skype site to load.  Grrr.

I realized that even if I could get Skype to work, I'd join the planning session for the last hour of their work together.  I decided to admit defeat.

Later, I was talking to my spouse as I tried to analyze why I felt both guilty and ashamed for my inability to join the planning session.  Then our discussion turned to other topics:  the role of the modern church camp, the types of retreats that have most touched our souls, the ways we might improve upon them.

I have long loved the Create in Me retreat for a variety of reasons, chief among them the opportunity to try new things--and to realize that I do love them or I don't.  Once upon a time, roughly 13 years ago, I had this idea that I could have a potter's wheel and a kiln--but after having used the wheel at several retreats, I've put that idea away.  Likewise a loom.  I always thought I would like a loom--but at one of the first Create in Me retreats I ever went to, I used a loom and it wasn't nearly as fascinating as it was when I was a child using one.

At this past Create in Me retreat, I used Copic markers for the first time.  Here's what I drew, inspired by the blaze of azaleas that I'd seen in bloom during my driving trip across the southeast:

At the time, I liked them well enough, but I thought other markers would be just fine.  I got home, tried every one that I had, and then headed to the art supply store to buy the Copic markers, a splurge I could afford at the time.

On Sunday, I said, "You know, I've been making at least one sketch a week ever since the retreat."  It's one of the few art forms that I've tried that was new (or newish) to me at the time that I've continued.

Here's my sketch from Sunday (our text was Isaiah 58:  6-12):

I like this art form because it's portable.  I have a cloth bag that I've requisitioned from the ever-expanding stash of bags we have.  In it, I carry markers, a pen, and my sketchbook.

I love this art form because it allows me to play with color, to swirl it on the page.  I love paints for the same reason, but the markers are easier to use--they're ready from the minute I uncap the marker, and there's really no clean up.  It's not as easy to blend colors as it is with paint--but the ease of clean up means that I do it more often.

When we talk about the value of retreats, we often talk about how we return to regular life refreshed and ready to plunge in again.  We don't talk as often about what we've learned and how we incorporate it into every day life--but that aspect can be just as valuable--if not more so.

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