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Recollections, Reflections And Freedom

The Discernment Retreat was a wonderful time of prayer, reflection, sharing, food and fellowship.  There were eleven seekers, including me, in attendance.  We are all exploring God's movement in our lives and our movement toward a more intentional and dedicated life of reverent service to our Lord Jesus Christ.  In spite of all the work asked of us, I came home energized from the weekend. 

Friday evening was an introduction to Leadership Discernment in the diocese.  We considered discernment as "the art of making choices based on one's loving relationship with God".  We are trying to respond to a call to leadership and possible greater ministry by "sifting through" who we are, how we are being formed, what gifts we may have already, what blessings we still need, and why we feel called.  We pray the Holy Spirit will be present with us, calling us forth, leading us and guiding us, and helping us as needed.  We seek that indifference, or freedom, to detach ourselves from the things we think we need, and to open ourselves to those things that God wants of us.

Saturday morning was time for the diocesan office to address the practical 'nuts and bolts' regarding discernment and the formation for leadership ministries, both lay and ordained, in the Diocese of Virginia.  They outlined a new direction taken by the diocese for discernment. We were presented with the orders of ministry and pathways to lay and ordained leadership roles, new processes and facilities for formation and development, an explanation of the "fruitful branches", and the importance of individual spiritual direction.  It did not seem to be the message of 'doom and gloom" others had suggested from earlier retreats; it was thorough and complete, laying out requirements and expectations.  Thankfully, it was all detailed for us in handouts. 

For Saturday afternoon and the remainder of the weekend, our time was devoted to spiritual reflection; first as individuals, then collectively in groups.  We considered different means by which we might further open ourselves through discernment.  We looked at different aspects of Ignatian Spirituality (ignatian_spirit):  Noting and the prayer of Consciousness Examen, Imagining and Praying with Scripture through Gospel Contemplation, and being Contemplative-In-Action while making choices.  In small groups, we reflected on our own spiritual journeys.  And finally, we heard about next steps from the diocese, were introduced to the the Parish Discernment Committee Process, and then tapped into a model of Group Spiritual Direction before finishing up.      

Throughout the weekend, we experienced the 'rhythm of life' in community with the people and staff of Richmond Hill where we stayed.  There were brief chapel services morning, noon and night led by a resident before we gathered for meals.  We said Compline each night after completing our work, and joined in the Holy Eucharist before departing Sunday afternoon.  We were encouraged to retreat in silence as circumstances permitted; first, it was easy, however it became more difficult to maintain quiet as we learned more about the process, our selves and one another other.  Each night, I returned to my room for quiet reflection, reading and prayer.  And then restful sleep.  

Before I left for Richmond, Chrissie gave me a most gracious gift through scripture - 2 Corinthians 8:10-14 (from The Message):

"So here's what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart's been in the right place all along. You've got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can't. The heart regulates the hands. This isn't so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you're shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written, 
     Nothing left over to the one with the most,
     Nothing lacking to the one with the least."

For me, this said Freedom.  Freedom to go.  Freedom to follow.  Freedom to be obedient.  Freedom to be who I am.  Freedom to explore "the power of Christ in me".  Freedom to pursue whatever God calls me into, wherever God calls us to go.
Thank you, sweetheart.  Thank you, God Almighty.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
May. 14th, 2007 12:08 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry about Bibi. =(
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )