I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43
On November 13-14th, I had the pleasure of leading a women’s retreat with my friend Patti. Twenty-four women from the First Church of Granville (Ohio) gathered in the beautiful Pilgrim Pines retreat center to focus our thoughts and spirits on the theme “Hope and Transformation.”
These are some reflections that emerged from our time away. Some words that came to mind when people thought about hope:
- Hope “gives you a reason to get up in the morning.”
- Hope is “the thing with feathers” (from Emily Dickinson poem)
- “In the Bulb There is a Flower” (hymn)
People talked about how there can be many “flowerings” or periods of growth over the course of a lifetime. It is important to remember – and be patient in – the times of dormancy that come in between those growth spurts. Resting and regrouping are a vital part of renewal. “A period of dormancy allows strength to build to flower anew.”
We were encouraged to look for signs of new life around us and within us. “Celebrate the buds” that will gradually evolve into blooming glory.
Sometimes it is necessary to let go of something or someone in order to move forward.
- “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”
- From Library of Soulsby Ransom Riggs (the 3rd novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy): “And it occurred to me, standing there, just breathing with her, quiet settling around us, that those might be the three most beautiful words in the English language. ‘We have time’.” Doesn’t that describe this weekend perfectly? We had time, didn’t we? Time to stand together and breathe, with the quiet settling around us. Thanks for that gift, Patti and Sue. Thanks for knowing that this is just what we needed, whether we knew it or not.
- “It is said when one door closes, God will open another. But it can be hell in the hallway.”
It is poignant to remember that while we were ensconced in this idyllic, peaceful setting, murder and mayhem were taking place across the globe – the attacks in Paris, the ongoing suffering of the Syrian refugees, unresolved conflicts in the Middle East, to name just a few. We search for hope in the midst of an imperfect world, trusting that the God of new life journeys with us. Hope does not ignore the messiness or pain of real life, but instead relies on God’s promise to be with us in the midst of anguish and loss.
We enjoyed Mary Oliver’s Morning Poem and Holli’s interpretive movement.
Our closing song that Mindy taught us: “Dance of the Nations”
Round and round we turn
We hold each other’s hands
And lead ourselves in a circle
The time is gone
The dance goes on