This is real

At sundown tonight, Rosh Hashanah begins. May all of our Jewish brothers and sisters be blessed with a sweet new year – we could all use that, right?

Each year I read the book cited in the link below. I find it an extremely important element of my spiritual life.  May we all find ways to embrace suffering; it spares no one. If that is not evident this year, I do not know if it ever will be.

My retreat from last weekend is still being processed, but this much is clear to me – honesty without shame, suffering with vulnerability, and offering ourselves openly to God and one another is the only way forward. May we soften, open, embrace – and be transformed. It is all very real, and we typically are, to riff off of Rabbi Alan Lew’s book title, completely unprepared. Yet God awaits us.

L’shana tovah to our Jewish friends. May peace prevail for all, may we each do our part of it, one surrender at a time.

“Our suffering, the unresolved element of our lives, is also from God. It is the instrument by which we are carried back to God, not something to be defended against, but rather to be embraced.”
― Alan Lew, This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation

Stillpoint – socially distant, soul connected

The retreat was wonderful. Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, NY is a very special place, a thin place. It was called Stillpoint and was led by Mary DeTurris Poust, who is a longtime friend and colleague in various efforts. I’ve been to other retreats of Mary’s before; they were good, but this one was astonishing. There is a lot to process. I’m so deeply grateful for a time of socially distant soul connection with God and with others.

Retreat

Today I will head north to the Adirondacks for a weekend retreat. There is no internet, so no comments will be moderated in. If you leave one before about noon I should be able to see it, so if you have a prayer intention, send it along. I will pray for you and yours Know I will be doing so at large anyway – plus God always knows.

A peaceful place of retreat in the Adirondack Mountains.

In any case, I am grateful to go to the mountains and be near a peaceful lake. There is almost no cell service and no internet, which truly means I will be on retreat. It is not an entirely silent retreat, but it will have plenty of silence.

I’ll be back next week and hope to be a more regular presence here.

North to Alaska

TJJO_Downtown_Juneau_4_2015_868ae45f-1b73-4c52-9c4f-dbea12170952This week I will head north to Alaska! No, I have never been there, and honestly – I never imagined that I would go there. My spouse has little interest in it, and at our age and with our budget, trips have to be something we both want to invest in when we take them.

It was however a delightful surprise to be asked if I would be Continue reading

Unexpected and unwanted gifts

price-pritchett-quoteMy time on retreat touched my heart so deeply. Here I am, days later, and I continue to experience many riches from those 2 days. I feel more convinced than ever that if we all had some quiet time, disconnect time, be with God and nature time, we might find a better way. Some of us live with the sin of being too busy to find such peace – and most of the time this sin is not intentional, but it remains a sin.  Or I think about those who live with the consequences of low-paid labor,  or no work – who cannot find any better way.

I keep thinking of what I read in Bishop’s Ed Scharfenberger’s column in last Thursday’s Evangelist. He said:

Are you ready for a change? Is it time to let go of that habit, that attitude, that relationship that is causing so much unhappiness and frustration? Jesus stands waiting, knocking gently at our door. All He needs from us is a heart open to His outstretched hand.

Are we ready for change? If not, peace will not come – nor much else. If we think about this one day we must just take the leap of change. It sounds so promising – and awful, too. AT least to me! Here is the gift and virtue of community, I can ask for your help, you can ask for mine, and we can all ask God to help us. That may be Continue reading

Retreat

QuietI just returned from a wonderful retreat at Wisdom House in Litchfield, CT, a place that I have long wanted to visit. A number of years ago, I did visit Litchfield a few times, but I have not been there in a long time, nor had I been to this place.

In the on-going embarrassment-of-riches department known as my life, (thank you God)  I was asked to help facilitate this retreat, which was being presented by a team. What a joy to be able to say yes.

For almost 48 hours I did not listen to a radio, watch a television, look at a computer screen, see or hear any news. What I did do was receive the grace to be able to fully sink into a real place of peace – a true retreat.

There were 18 retreatants, and 6 of us on the retreat team. My portion was near the very beginning so I really got to participate and relax with everyone else. The topic of the retreat was prayer, with different forms presented. There were no shortage of both aha and ahhhh moments. This diverse group of women was a joy to get to know; I arrived knowing only one of them and I left feeling my heart touched by many. God shows up in everyone, giving new meaning to the Catholic idea of “here comes everybody.”

LabWisdomDawnWe had a good amount of free time and I walked the labyrinth more than once. This morning I arose, heading out there shortly after sunrise. Oh, how I loved walking with the sun peeking over the hills and trees in the morning quiet, barefoot in the wet grass.

Returning around noon, I made two more turns, quietly praying the Jesus prayer at first, then making up a short prayer of my own. The space between heaven and earth seemed little more than a diaphanous veil at that point. Many prayer intentions and thoughts of friends and loved ones were alive in my heart during these two days.

Today I drove home in silence, relishing the quiet and peace. Now to find ways to continue to nurture this gift, one I have been actively trying to cultivate in the garden of my heart this summer. I am so thankful for the gift of retreat.

What would the world look like if we all had time for retreat, or at least some respite from every day living? Very different, I suppose. Very different.

Take time to nourish your soul and spirit this summer

Sölle, Prof. Dr. DorotheeLast year at this time, I was pretty emotionally pretty decompensated. Long story, it does not matter why, and I’m good now. The one thing that I felt like I needed to do was to go on a retreat, which I did. Seven full days of monastic silence… ahhhh. That kind of retreat is a luxury, and one I don’t have the time for now.

So what do we do when we don’t have the time, or if it feels as if we don’t have the time to go away? How can we take the time to nourish our souls and spirits?

Here is one idea… Sign up for Soelle in Summer: Challenge and Wonder.

Who or what is Soelle, you may ask? That means:

Dorothee Soelle (1928-2003) was a German theologian, poet, peace activist, and Protestant Christian with Catholic, secular, humanist, and Jewish companions and allies; she was also a friend, teacher, spouse, mother, socialist, and from mid-life on, feminist.

She had me at Soelle! And she kept me at “challenge and wonder.” I love that description. I first learned about Soelle from theologian Jane Redmont, who is facilitating this online offering. This hybrid course and retreat begins on June 17 and runs through July 31. Jane is an experienced online facilitator and retreat leader, who will guide you on this spiritual journey.

The beauty of online retreats is that you can set aside time for this that suits your schedule.

For more details and sign up information, please see Jane’s website –  here.  If you want to learn more about online retreats, check this link from NCR. (Please note, you will find me speaking about another one of Jane’s retreats in the article, so I am not unbiased, but on the other hand, I have experienced this!)