Sunday, December 12, 2010

Star Seekers

This is the name of the Retreat that I led yesterday at Camp Christian with my friend Kay McGlinchey.

I have been leading Advent retreats for almost 20 years. I started doing this in Bowling Green and usually went to the beautiful home of Judy Conibear and we had a morning retreat. They were always focussed on a theme of the season and provided times of silence and times of sharing. What I learned was that if people are willing to spend time away from their normal responsibilities and life (Retreat!) and you present a beautiful setting and some time with God's word and silence - God shows up. Something happens.

When I came to Columbus, I brought the retreats to Camp and they extended to a whole day - from 9 - to 3. And then we added the option of the "slumber party" - coming the night before just to relax in front of a fire and talk.

Every year you never know who is going to come and how everything is going to work - but it always does work. And this year we had 15 women and two leaders and it was a great blessing. Some of the highlights from the retreat included

1. A "Body prayer" to O Holy Night - which was just a wonderful way to begin and allow ourselves to let ourselves go and open ourselves to God

2. We each wrote down one thing we were seeking for that day and each person prayed for another during the day. That was a blessing to me as I prayed for Brenda from BG who I love so much and then when I found out that Marcia from BG was praying for me

3. A lectio divina on the text - the 2nd chapter of Mattew as the wise men were seeking the star. It just opened up as we heard the words several times and asked different questions. Seeking the star is a metaphor for the spiritual journey and it speaks to the reality that sometimes the star is hard to see. One aspect that spoke to me was that at the beginning of the journey there is always passion and in the midst of it there can be confusion and questions. But there are markers along the way and joy when they came to the Christ child. And then.....they go back home another way. What a great image for how we get changed throughout this life of seeking.

4. An hour of silence and several different possibilities of activities, readings and writings. I took a walk around camp and found that my own mood and vision improved during it - suddenly what seemed like day gray and barren at the beginning of my walk became beautiful and haunting as I continued around the frozen Lake. Beautiful.

5. At one point the women divided into triads (three wise men - three wise women!) for sharing and prayer. What I heard afterwards was that many found shared experiences with each other. Many did not know each other before they came, but they found they had much in common. And the right people seemed to be with the right people.

6. A great and creative and simple craft. We made beautiful stars using 6 pieces of paper. That was all we needed - and glue. (Bonus: Marsha Mueller is in charge of crafts and I am able just to participate) And someone afterward commented on how we were able to take something very ordinary and make something beautiful. Like God does with us sometimes.

7. Communion was so meaningful to me. The elders were two women from two churches that I have served - Marcia and Gail and I was touched throughout their reading, praying and serving.

We do these retreats every year and it seems that God gives us the theme at some point in the fall and the people who need to be there are there.

I feel blessed by God to be able to have this creative expression.
And tired today.
And happy.

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