As I write this I am getting ready to go to The St. Francis Spirituality Center in Tiffin for a 5 day silent retreat. This is a requirement for my course in spiritual direction, but I would be doing this anyway. I have not done a 5 days of silence before, but I have done three and found it to be wonderul. I look forward to it - especially because I will get to see my old spiritual director, Sister Breta.
The last few days have been a time of rest and quiet for me at home. Chuck left yesterday on the Megabus to see the Hughes family and his son Brian in Chicago. I have been spending a lot of time of my back porch, reading, writing and just being.
It is hard to get used to not working and just being. At the same time I am very aware of the luxury of all of this. My neighbors are in the process of moving right now - they have to vacate their home at the end of the month and still do not know where they will be living. Another neighbor has a son who will soon be going to prison for drug dealing. And always I am aware of those - like Lisa Baluk - who are suffering through cancer. Different people in different seasons of life - and I sit on my back porch in this "Sabbatical Season" grateful and yet conscious of the suffering around me.
During the past two weeks I have read two wonderful books of fiction - Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Stout. and In Country by Bobbie Jo Mason. One of the blessings of the sabbatical has been the chance to read and savor these books. Maybe because of that, I ended up in tears at the end of each. I heartily recommend.
I finished "The Naked Now" by Richard Rohr which I have been slowly reading devotionally for about 6 weeks. I am going to take it on retreat today because it has in the appendices spiritual practices. Often, I do not take the time (or have the time) to sit with them, so I welcome this.
This morning I went to church. It was a blessing, as church always is but, of course, very different to go as a stranger. When I worship ourside of Karl Road Christian Church I want to worship and not be in an "evaluative" stance. And I did this morning. Having said that I did notice three things - that no one offered me a bulletin, no one spoke personally to me (except "peace be with you") and I really missed communion.
There were several parts of the service that were really appealing to me. There was a solo by an older man (in his 80's?) who sang "Because he Lives." He sand with great faith and I realize how much I enjoy worshipping with the saints. The great blessing of church for me has always been the intergenerational aspect and I loved this solo. Their mission group from Nicaragua gave a brief talk about their trip - they got back last night. It was in many ways the typical report as middle class youth have their eyes opened to third world poverty and all of the team was touched by the deep faith of the people. What struck me about it was that whole idea of how we each do our part - which may not be much - but is important. As slowly we (the church) makes a difference in the lives of people around the world and our own faith is strengthened.
The preacher was very good and spoke about picking up the mantle of being who we are. And I always need to hear that.
Finally, at the end of the service - after the closing hymn - they were welcoming new members. As the congregation sat to do so - I left! I was not responsible and could leave early!
That was a good feeling.