Letting God

When a mom leaves her family and home for a weekend, it’s not a light decision.  Plans, preparations, arrangements, etc., are made for both home and destination.  What could be so important as to invoke extra work?

This year was the sixth year for the Time for J.O.Y. retreat at Camp Mitchell, sponsored by the Arkansas Episcopal Church Women.  I think each year has taught me something that enriches my understanding of my spirituality.

  1. Part of the mystery of Grace is revealed through Beauty.
  2. No two retreats will ever be the same.
  3. We make sacrifices to do what we love, but family is always a priority.
  4. Just because you don’t think it’s a good idea doesn’t mean Spirit won’t work through it anyway.
  5. When living into your call, expect to be surprised by the potency of Spirit.
  6. Not everyone needs what I need to experience Spirit deeply, and laughter goes a long way to feed the soul!

Needless to say, the time and energy I put into helping orchestrate these retreats is rewarded by the lessons and insights I gain.  I never regret taking this time apart, even if it does take me a day or two (or three) to recover afterward.

Like one retreatant said this year, society knows the power of a group of women, but we seldom honor our potential.  I encourage you to honor yourself and your peers.  Gather together with common purpose, united for something true and good, and watch what can be revealed to you.

And no matter how much planning we do, the magic happens when we do our best and then let go.  Most of the time it takes less energy than we think.  If you’re like me, you set your expectations so high you almost always set yourself up for failure.  Well, drop it down a notch or few.  I left my husband without a menu for the weekend.  He did the grocery shopping and no one starved.  We have some great friends who helped make sure the house was clean when I returned.  We never know how grace will be revealed in our lives.  But by not planning every detail, we allow room for pleasant surprises . . . or at least worthwhile lessons.  We allow room to let God work in and through our lives.

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My First Homily

(Homily I offered on Sunday, April 26th, 2009, at the Time for JOY retreat, Camp Mitchell.  The theme of the weekend was “Birthing the Woman Within.”  I’m sorry that I can’t invoke the waves of emotion, the movement of Spirit here that was present at the mountain chapel.  Thanks be to all.)

I love that Time for JOY is during the Easter season.  Now is a time when we are still new in the remembered contemplation and sacrifice of Christ; our alleluias are still fresh.

This JOY weekend, I’ve talked mostly about the Yourself of J.O.Y.  For the full JOY, we also need Jesus and Others.  In our daily lives, we are pretty well-trained.  We’re good girls when it comes to helping out when needed . . . as long as it’s for someone else.  We focus so much on You here at JOY because you are more likely to neglect yourself than others, but you have to remember that the better cared-for you are, the better the quality of service you provide.

And Jesus?  Well, if we’re not likely to care for ourselves, how much more likely are we to spend precious time on someone who doesn’t seem to play an active role in daily life?

Therein lies the rub.

We are sisters in Christ.  We are daughters of God.  There’s a suffering Jesus endured for us to show us true peace.  There’s the spark within us that is also of God, of Christ.  Our seed of potential and purpose is none other than that which exists in Jesus, of God.  The potential remains in each of us to live fully as a child of God, but how willing are we to step forth and call God ours?  How willing are we to see the risen Christ in each other?  How willing are we to believe in miracles?   Would we have been any less disbelieving and wondering in the presence of the resurrected Lord?

The woman you’ve been coaxing out of hiding is “the deep root of your being,” your inner Jesus, the one willing to claim God, the one that is Whole, the One.  In our human form, our best is to love others as we love ourselves, but only if we know who we really are.  Given a purpose to Love, we are also given talents and gifts with which to do this.  There are ways our seemingly trivial work creates more positive energy in the Universe, thus creating more love.  Don’t ask me to explain it because I don’t understand it, but it works.  So what brings us joy is important.  We have our thread in the beautiful cosmic tapestry.  To know ourselves is crucial, tantamount to Love.  When we know, feel and trust the love of God within, then truthfully we can witness to others as we extend the blessing of Christ that “peace be with you.”  It’s not solely about the fact that Jesus died.  I tell my kids Jesus is in their heart.  He’s in mine and yours, too.  It’s about life — living and loving.

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori reminds us of our responsibility.  “We’re meant to be heralds of resurrecion to a world that still thinks death is the last word.”

Birth is an everyday miracle.  I believe in miracles. 

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A Time for JOY

TimeForJoy.gifAs you’re getting this, I am off amidst a group of wonderful women at our annual Time for JOY retreat.  You needn’t envy me.  Just visit our site and plan on coming next year . . . if you’re a woman, of course!

Since the first year of the retreat here in Arkansas, I’ve been hooked.  This is what living spiritually as a woman is all about — Jesus (or insert your religious inspiration here), Others (because we all serve each other and receive great rewards in giving) and Yourself (because a Self properly nurtured has a quality of life inspiring to others, fulfilling to the self and beneficial to all).  You can’t truly put it into words, however.

Spirituality is the experience of this life in the realm of the Spirit.

At our weekend retreat, we try to emphasize the presence of the Spirit, making it obvious in all you do so that when you go home, you are better able to recognize it in your daily round.

Many feel like they can’t get away for a weekend.  Trust me.  I know!  But it’s like putting premium fuel in your car, which you probably don’t do until you start hearing the knocking.  It’s like getting the flu when you need to slow down.  Rather than waiting for something bad to happen, give yourself a little preventative medicine, the sort that nourishes you mind, body and soul.

If you’re not here with me at the retreat, I hope to see you next year.  If you can’t make it at all, is there something similar near you?  Can you make a weekend retreat for yourself?  Do something to recharge your batteries, your spirit.  Get a good night’s sleep.  Eat some good food.  Pamper yourself.  Stimulate your intellect.  Evaluate your life.  Imagine your life as you hope it can be, and do something to make it happen now.  Yes, you can, and I give you permission.

Live every day simply with great joy, and join me Monday with a renewed Spirit.

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