Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Welcome Retreat!

Last Wednesday I went on a one-day retreat at a Roman Catholic retreat center about 15 miles from home. This was a first for me, and I was a little nervous -- but what a wonderful experience! The retreats are scheduled once a month, and attract several people each time. This time, several of us had come on our own, and a group of women also arrived together. Spiritual direction is also available, if desired.

Despite its location near a major exit of I-295, the silence in the house was stunning. We began with prayer in the chapel, and got suggestions for reading and pondering. Then we were basically given the run of the house and grounds. I settled down in the sunny front room near the cat, said a couple of rosaries, did a bit of still prayer, and then read awhile. I also bundled up and took a turn around the field, discovering in the process a wonderful labyrinth constructed by the simplest of means: the paths are demarcated by shallow trenches dug in the ground to separate them. I walked the labyrinth and was at peace.

Then it was my turn for spiritual direction. What a blessing it was! The nun I spoke with listened patiently while I explained the difficulties I face at church: the loss of friends who are leaving, the growing sensation of disjunction that I feel -- that the sermons are aimed primarily at new Christians and not at me, that there is a real dearth of programming for those who have been in the church all their lives, that the Church on the Pike is not "home" anymore.

She referred me to a book about coping with change, called Who Moved my Cheese?, which I have ordered. She also recommended ... that I find a new church.

But, but, but ...

Noooo, nooooo .....


But she may be right. I am not ready for this, however, so if I do it, it will follow a long period of prayer and discernment -- and a lot of visiting. The Holy Spirit is going to really have to kick my backside for this to happen. I'm going to have to find a place that clearly fits me better, where I don't feel superseded. A place where God wants me to be.

As Sister said, "God wants you to be at peace in your worship. If you're not, it may be that, for you, He has moved elsewhere. You have to find Him again!"

It's great advice -- but can I do it? I promised I would come back after Christmas and speak with her again.


Jan said...

I so appreciate you quoting the Sister about moving churches. I moved from a Methodist Church I'd been a member of for more than a decade to an Episcopal one two years ago. I struggled so about it, continually telling myself I should be able to find God anywhere, because God is everywhere. It took me two years to move and much questioning and worrying. Glad you went on retreat and met with the Sister.

sharecropper said...

What wonderful advice, and lots more to ponder upon. Certainly God wants us to be moved by worship -peace, excitement, movement, a desire to study - and a change of scenery may be in order for you to feel that tension in worship that is so essential to being a living Christian. Who Moved My Cheese? is a very interesting book. I think you'll like it.

I'm doing a women's retreat Dec. 7-9 on Personality, Spirituality and Change. What fun the preparation has been. Wish you could be here.

Gabrielle said...

I'm very happy you were able to have such a wonderful retreat, and that you found Sister to be a blessing. That you would not make any changes until after "a long period of prayer and discernment" speaks volumes. May God bless you in your discernment.