On returning from a retreat

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 35. And I drove home from Smithfield, Virginia, from a retreat center called The Well, doing about 72 mph down the highway in silence. Well, almost in silence – every so often I would break out in the first verse of “Be Thou My Vision” – the first verse, because I can’t remember much more than that. And I think twice I sang the first verse of “My Song is Love Unknown,” which is naturally proper lenten fare, and which I adore because of the first verse:

My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?

Those two lines in the middle – Love to the loveless, shown that they might lovely be – is a prayer I pray frequently, and not always for people other than myself. I’ll bet that most of us feel loveless, unloved, unlovely – perhaps even unlovable. There are so many places where we get messages that we are not good enough, beautiful enough, thin enough, fast enough, rich enough, pious enough, faithful enough, smart enough, loving enough, compassionate enough, giving enough… well, let’s just say it’s pretty easy to find yourself feeling unloved and unlovely. But God is still there, giving us all the love we could possibly want or need in a lifetime, and then some. God is there giving us all the love we can stand, and we turn God away because we believe we’re unlovely and unlovable. Well, okay, maybe you don’t, but I know I have, a time or two. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is called sin.

Now this post has gone completely astray from my original intentions. I guess I’m not focused enough. 🙂 But suffice it to say, I spent a lovely weekend at The Well. I walked the labyrinth (“Cosmic Walk” – and a potent one!), closed my eyes and listened to the birdsong, walked around the lake, sat in a gazebo and tasted the breeze, listened to some Mozart and a really cool CD of music based on the poetry of Rumi, drew some picture-meditations, wrote a handful of haiku, prayed the four-fold daily office from the Book of Common Prayer, laughed at the antics of the six geese that patrol the perimeter, napped in my hermitage with the window wide open to the sun and breeze, watched the lunar eclipse, and ate wonderfully wholesome meals prepared by the center directors. It was wonderful. Peaceful. Healing. Restorative. Balm to soothe a jangled soul. I’ll be going back, for sure; I’m thinking about mid-August, before the fall semester classes start up again.

Before I leave, I’ll inflict upon you a couple of the not-too-terrible haiku that I composed while reflecting on the weekend:

The wind blusters through
setting the wind chimes ringing
the bell tolls for me.Lord, come sit by me
in the lakeside gazebo
under springtime sun.

I lie on my bed
listening to the breezes
my heart is at rest.

“Come to the water”
I hear the Spirit calling
“Drink, and be set free.”

Eclipse of the moon
red shadow moving across
over the still lake

Quiet spring evening
birds fall silent – crickets chirp
softly, trees rustle.

Living water calls
ev’rything I ever did
is now forgiven.

Sin is washed away
Love and mercy guide my steps –
at least for today.

A bite from the moon
Cosmic Cookie Monster bit –
Eeew! This tastes like cheese!

Okay, so that last one was not exactly, well, art, but it made me smile. Peace be with you today, and may you find the same peace and love that I encountered this weekend on my retreat.
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8 thoughts on “On returning from a retreat

  1. Oh, I also love “My song is love unknown” and often play it on the piano, as well as frequently singing it to myself. Now I get to welcome you officially to the RevGals! Happy week!

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  2. Happy birthday. I hope everything went really well.

    And what excellent hymns to start my morning.

    I can’t remember whether we sang Be Thou My Vision this past Sunday or whether it’s scheduled for this Sunday. (I practiced Sunday’s hymns yesterday, so the two weeks’ worth are blurred in my mind.)

    And My Song is Love Unknown is a big favourite of mine (although to the tune LOVE UNKNOWN) which is listed as an alternate on that page. I can’t wait to do it during Holy Week. (At least, we’d better…we choose hymns tomorrow.)

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  3. I love Be Thou My Vision, but I wasn’t familiar with Love Unknown. How beautiful.

    It’s easy to feel unloved. What a great reminder we are loved.

    Happy birthday!

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  4. Love Unknown is one of my all time favorite hymns.

    Just found your blog – gotta scoot to work but I’ll be back.

    Welcome to RGBP – it’s a great group.

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