a retreat…

I wasn’t really retreating away from anything much but I did want to put myself in a place where I could have some authentic conversation and get to know some people better…so last Saturday afternoon, I picked up a couple of girls with their young babies in my empty car with no babies to head not too far but far enough to a girls’ retreat through the Mother’s Time Out that I’ve been going to one morning a week.  It was relaxed, meaningful and fun…and I absolutely loved just walking into the dining room to scoop up a hot meal and then setting my dirty plates down to just turn around and walk out the door. 

I saved my picture-taking for my early morning walk only.  This is where we stayed…

and this our view…

In spite of some really good conversation with some really interesting people and a pretty cutthroat game of Phase 10…I think the highlight for me was listening to one of the girls’ mothers, who had flown in to speak (she corrected me quickly with her insistence that she “shares” and doesn’t “speak”) somewhere else, ‘share’.  Her name is Connie and this is her story.  It left me a bit breathless at the horror and trying to think about what it might be like to have that story…but the most interesting part was that by the end of that 24 hour period, her story seemed to fade into the background a bit, taken over by the beauty of her soul.  The pain she has experienced became only a backdrop to what has become her light in the world.  She reminded me that how we react to what is happening around us…matters, maybe even primarily.  It defines us and leads us to who we become…and it is our definitive and decided choices that bring us there. 

I remember sitting in a small group of women a lot like the one I attend here and during the discussion, one woman who had recently carried and labored a full-term baby with no indication that anything was wrong, only to deliver it dead.  She was so (naturally and rightly) emotional that she couldn’t even help breaking the north american norm of pretense and started figuratively shaking her fists at God.  I did not know about her pain personally but I do know my experience with grief and grieving and shaking fists so as a result of the awkward silence that followed her outburst, I said a few things to her.  Afterward the leader of the group came up to me and expressed thanks and that she knew this woman well and, “she’ll be alright”.  All I remember is the little hairs on my neck prickling at the lack of wisdom in that statement.  This woman was in the throes of, what she described as the darkest pain of her life and stood at the very crossroads of choosing bitterness or…well, simply God.  There’s never a guarentee how someone might choose.  She didn’t need someone to pacify her, she needed someone to go to battle for her…if nothing else to stand by her, over her, for her and just pray. 

Connie reminded me that none of us escape and all face pain, we have all grieved or will grieve something, someone, sometime…and that it is likely that we will stand at that crossroads probably more than once in our lives.  There is something about listening to someone who has chosen rightly, has done what is harder and better when it has really counted.  Someone who is willing to share the grit and grime of it.  and someone who will be honest about the sheer terror and fear that sometimes accompanies obedience, but has still obeyed.  Her peace reveals nothing less. 

Connie also handed me, through her sharing, a portion of Scripture that touched me in those deep places, like pouring water over a dry and thirsty land and I hide them in my heart…

“I will go before you, and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.  I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, In order that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name”.   Is. 45:2-3

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