I arrived home a couple of days ago from our first retreat, and by a series of fortunate events am enjoying a whole week off (my work family is on vacation ☺) in which to process the experience. Talk about perfect timing!
The retreat was wonderful. We gathered at a Catholic retreat center called Queen's House, which was right on the South Saskatchewan river. Our group had met three or four times online prior to this retreat, but really didn't know each other very well at all. And such a diverse group! Three men, three women, all of different ages and backgrounds... it's amazing to me to look back on how quickly we bonded and started living into our true identity as brothers and sisters in Christ.
I think what really brought us together was our common desire for something more. We all want to go deeper with God, whatever that might look like. That shared goal swept away any barriers that might have kept us as a distance from one another. There's something so sweet about journeying with like-minded souls towards a mutual purpose.
The fellowship was really beautiful. And fun! Oh my goodness, so much laughter and good-natured teasing! That's one thing my spirit was hungering for - true connection with real live people. It was delightful getting to know everyone, sharing our stories and offering encouragement and a listening ear. So much wisdom around the table!
And such a welcome change of pace from my day-to-day life! I hadn't realized to the full how much working full-time was draining me. Not so much physically anymore, but spiritually and emotionally. With only five or six waking hours at home per day now, it's been a huge challenge to fit in everything that I need to do, let alone the things I want to do.
So it was extra-refreshing to walk (and sit) along the river for three hours one afternoon, or lay in bed and read before breakfast, or sing at the top of my lungs in an empty chapel, or pray for my new friends and be prayed for by them... even not having to cook was a blessing!
After having a bit of time to reflect on the entire experience, two significant points have emerged for me. One - it reminded me of who I am. Or more specifically, that there is more to me than my nine-to-five life might reveal. It was such a joy to be able to dust off some of my gifts that often sit on the shelf these days, like intercession, encouragement, worship leadership and (hopefully) wise counsel. That experience has led me to determine to dust them off more regularly, even in my current contexts.
Two - and this one just hit home to me this morning as I was returning from a refreshing woodsy walk (and may be closely related to number one). Literally out of the blue, it started just pouring rain. Anyone who knows me well is well-aware of my pluviophile tendencies, and might guess that I was smiling broadly as I faced the wild wind and pounding rain. It always seems to me such a gift from my Father who knows me so well. But as I cheerfully fought my way through the elements, sopping wet, I recognized just how dry I am in my spirit. This weekend away was really just a very refreshing drop on my parched tongue. There's such a deep dryness in me; it will take some time and reflection and intention to slake it sufficiently. But I'm aware of it now, I think that's the first important step.
I'm so, so grateful for everything God has done to move me in the direction of quenching my thirst - the thirst I didn't even know was there. Looking forward with eager anticipation to see how He wants to renovate me!