Women's Retreat weekend

>> Monday, March 2, 2009

This past weekend was our church's Women's Retreat at Camp St. Christopher's. It was... well, I give it mixed reviews, but only because of my perspective. (Given that it's the only perspective I've got, I guess it'll have to do.) To clarify, it was very well done; the schedule was light enough to provide relaxation times but was also very challenging spiritually, which it was supposed to be. The people were (and are) wonderful; Jeannie et al did an amazingly fantastic job setting up and running the event. Jo was a fan-freakin'-tastic speaker. The food was very good and completely appropriate for my dietary needs (resulting in me not eating any of the extra food I brought along just in case). The setting was gorgeous

So, why mixed? First, I was completely exhausted. It was that kind of complete life-drained done that the past week of illness and adoption inspection/prep might cause. Secondly, despite the joyous experience of falling asleep on a screen porch to the sound of the ocean on Friday night, it was cold and I got somewhat freaked out by the large creature that was bending the palm tree and causing large branches and things to fall around. So I moved into the cabin to join the two snorers. For me, no sleep = very bad. I had to apologize to some folk after my attitude on Saturday morning. (Incidentally, if I snapped at you and don't recall or couldn't find you afterwards, I'm sorry! Tired is no excuse!) For Saturday night I moved up to the more hotel-like rooms because it was too hard to take the cabin's stairs, so I slept much better on Saturday. Thirdly, it was my first time at an event like this as an adult, so I really didn't know what to expect. A large part of my mind was held off at an analytical distance simply observing. The last time I went to a church retreat I was in High School and it was full of emotional wrenching and power struggles and, well, high school drama. So I'm innately distrustful of these kinds of situations. I'm glad to report this was... somehow, the same but also completely different. It was emotionally wrenching (see 'finally' point) but it was also a Safe Place, without the snarky teenage angst. It was simply different. Finally, it was a spiritual retreat with a speaker who challenged us. Which basically means this was soul-searching, exterior-image-peeling, defense-shattering kinds of things. About 100 women peeling away the layers (I prefer the cake vs. onion image, incidentally) with lots of crying, some excruciating wailing and screaming, and steps to healing. All very necessary, all very exciting at some level to see the Spirit work, but also all very, very hard. Exhausting.

On the way home, Cathy J asked me to summarize in a sentence or two what I took away from it. I couldn't manage that, since I came up with one concept that needed lots of sentences to explain. (Not a surprise, really.) That idea of 'what did God say to you' had been circulating throughout the last day, and most people were like 'well, I need to work more on *this*' or 'I need to let go of *this*' kind of things. Those things that were in their *this* were usually main topics of the lectures or the Sunday sermon. For me, it was a smaller (but maybe still large) concept: This stuff is work, and it is messy. And that's okay. Becky (our Priest) said it again on Sunday and it suddenly resonated really hard with me. I have the idea that I should be able to automatically accept those things that Just Are, because some things I have no control over. I know that I can't control some things, but I hadn't realized how angry I was about them... or I had at some level understood that I was angry, but felt I shouldn't be because it should be easy somehow or there really wasn't any point to being angry. Plus, I just hate when I fall apart and I get my shirt (or Lanse's shirt) wet and snotty and then I have a headache from crying and even though I feel better at the moment, it doesn't take care of the problem. So really, why bother? All it does is make a mess.

But that's okay. And sometimes that's necessary. Even if I'm upset about something I have no power to change, I can fall apart about it sometime. It's allowed.

So. Since this seems to be the only way I can successfully journal, I may be working through some things here. I will turn comments off unless I'm looking for advice. It's nothing personal. If you have my email address or IM and want to engage in a back-and-forth discussion, you do of course have the freedom to try it; just please trod carefully and don't be offended if I don't reply or choose not to answer your questions directly. I will not be discussing this on Facebook. In case it needed saying.

Stay tuned for potentially challenging stuff.

Or, I might just get sick of soul-searching and you can toss the last couple bits. You just never know!


About This Blog

Life is about changes; transitions from one place to another, from one purpose to another, from one being to another. They say that the person you are today is a completely different person from who you were ten years ago and who you'll be ten years from now. So far, at the age of 33, I've had four major transitions in my life which redefined who I am. Two years into the results of the most recent transition I am again - still - exploring how God is shaping me. Over the next few months I hope to review my past and set goals for the future, and embrace the next adventure of rediscovering me.

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