Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

Archive for the category “Pond”

Let Go of Control

I was as inconspicuous as I could be considering I was in the middle of the pond in a paddle boat.

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I Come In Peace

I am currently on a 4-day silent retreat and would like to share this story.

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Silence is the Retreat

My drive from Michigan to Ohio was absolutely beautiful.  Michigan had experienced an ice-storm and every branch of the crystalized trees glittered for miles, superior to any display of Christmas lights I have ever seen, as the sunshine brought them to life.  My simple little camera would not have captured the beauty that was before me; therefore, the photo album is etched in my memory. 

To silence oneself for a few days is not as hard as imagined; I accomplished this during the last weekend in March in a most serene setting in Ohio at a silent directed retreat.  About 25 others attended this quiet-time to contemplate and discern God in our lives.  We were blessed with trained Spiritual Directors to guide us in this journey.   

The first evening, we were able to speak with others while sharing a meal.  I was one of three participants from Michigan, and I met some awesome Ohioans.  We may have talked for 45 minutes or so, but much was shared within those precious minutes.  After the meal, we met in a room together to share what was on our hearts this weekend.  When it was my turn to speak, I explained that about a month ago, I had a very vivid dream of someone telling me to “minister to the church”.  My personal task then was to spend time with God to see just what that meant.

We were assigned one of four Spiritual Directors and we broke into smaller groups to meet with them for further instruction about the weekend and to set up our personal meeting times.  After this short meeting, we were excused to begin our journey into silence.

Back in my room, I had a hard time settling in.  Earlier that morning, my mother was rushed to emergency and diagnosed with a treatable form of congestive heart failure.  It was on my mother’s urging that I go ahead and make my journey to Ohio as I had planned for months.  I silently kept in contact with my siblings by receiving updates about my mother’s condition via text messaging. 

One awesome cook made all of our meals.  Eating in silence was an experience I had never encountered.  We acknowledged each other with smiles, but then focused on our food before us and the beauty of the landscape that surrounded us through all the windows in the dining area.  We took turns cleaning up the kitchen after each meal.  I signed up for clean up duty after breakfast on Saturday morning.  I broke the silence in the dining area when I accidently dropped a drinking glass onto the ceramic tiled floor.

Spring was not in the air; however, God gave us sunshine every day.  I bundled up and took a walk along the paths in the woods and I walked around the pond and next to a stream.  I spotted beautiful birds that I never see in Michigan, I heard the jack-hammer pounding of the Woodpeckers high up in the trees, and two sets of geese were making their homes near the pond.  It was so beautiful.

Sitting in silence and letting the Holy Spirit speak to my heart was quite an amazing experience.  Spending time in prayer, God’s word, in His creation, and simply resting in Him, made me realize that He is not quiet at all. 

During our closing session, we went around the room, as we had at the beginning, and shared what the Holy Spirit spoke to us in our silent journey.  This is what I said:

On Thursday, I announced that I wanted to know what my dream meant to “minister to the church”.  I found out that answer this weekend.

To minister means to care for others.  The church are people everywhere.

The Holy Spirit allowed me to search deep inside of me to remind myself that I love to help people.  I have sewing skills, listening skills, writing skills and support skills that I can creatively use to serve God’s people.  Although I have ideas on how to utilize my passions and skills, it will be the Holy Spirit that will lead me.  I will spend more time in prayer and in God’s word as they will strengthen me.

Philippians 4:13 is my take-away verse:

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

I did not want to leave the serenity of the weekend.  My Spiritual Director explained that this is an experience.  I can take this experience with me, lean on it, remember it and be thankful for it.  I can create new experiences to spend quality, quiet-time with the Holy Spirit.  When she said this to me, it didn’t make sense.  Only after being immersed into the world once again, do I understand.  It is important for all of us to sneak away, quiet ourselves and let the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts as it is true nourishment for the soul.  Now I understand why Jesus took time alone to pray to his Father.  He was being strengthened for His journey to the cross.

A special Thank You to Sister Virginia, my Spiritual Director.  May God continue to use you for His good works.   

I Sit Listening: An Autumnal Equinox Experience for Women 9-22-2010

I attended this session with about 28 other women. We put our busy lives on hold to take in, through our senses, all the beauty of the changing seasons that we may otherwise overlook.

Sitting outside on blankets and mats, we were led into meditation by Jan Lundy. Our senses were awakened to the environment around us. After a short reading by Jan, we were encouraged to take 30 minutes to discover what the seasonal change means to us. We were allowed to do this in any way we wanted. Women wrote in journals, walked, explored the pond, or took a nature walk in the nearby wooded area.

I sat for a little while and enjoyed listening to a bird call to other birds as it sat high up in a tree. The leaves danced in the breeze as I gravitated to the pond. The scent of the pond made me reminiscent of childhood days spent at my family’s waterfront cottage playing in the shallow part of the lake and exploring a nearby swamp. As I looked more closely into the water, I saw minnows racing in unison to the top to snack on the unsuspecting bugs that landed on the water. I stood silently hoping to see a frog before it jumped in the water to hide from me. I stepped away to walk the nature trail, but found the muddy ground unappealing and I made my way back to the edge of the pond. Standing where I had been moments earlier, I was surprised to notice some very pretty yellow flowers at the water’s edge. I started walking around the pond and I saw more fish and more bugs. Then I spotted the two inch fish that stopped me in my tracks. This little fish was dead and lying on its side, washed up to the shore. I said a little prayer for the fish in case it was all by itself when it passed away and it had its own change of season.

Seasons change inside and outside of us. Embrace every change and give God the glory for the good changes and even the bad changes as he is in the center of each of them, holding us up.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

Take the time to meditate on the seasons of your life and look for God in each of them. He has been, is, and will be there with you.

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