Monday, January 12, 2009

4 Hour Silent Retreat

I can't remember if I've talked about my Care Group (aka Life Group) on my blog before (and I'm too lazy to go back and check), so I'll update you a bit. About a year ago a few of us were in a Survivor Pool with a bunch of friends and also people we'd never met before. We had Survivor kick off parties and Finale parties and had a GREAT time. We dubbed it our Survivor Life Group and joked that "who needs a real Life Group when you've got the Survivor Life group." After awhile a few of us started talking about making it the real thing (of course still keeping the Survivor pool going on the side) and asking the couple who host the parties if they would lead our Care Group. We got together and wrote out an email to them pitching the idea. Most of us had all been in Care Group's before and had come out of them with tainted views, so we were a little leery about ever getting into another one again. Well, I'm happy to say we've been going for a year strong and I, for one, am loving it. I am challenged and encouraged every time I go. I've never been so comfortable in a Care Group before. We all go to different churches and have different outlooks on life which makes it even more interesting.

In late November we were challenged to do a 4 hour silent retreat. This excited me and scared me at the same time. FOUR HOURS!? That's a LOOOOOOONG time. On December 13 I embarked on this 4 hour journey and I'd like to share some with you now. Since I had never done anything like this before, I wasn't quite sure where to begin, so I went up to the Abbey in Mission and brought my camera along. I'll intersperse my writings from my journal in with some of the pics I took that day.

This is my first time doing a Silent Retreat. I'm nervous and excited all at the same time. I'm trying to go into it with no expectations, but it's hard. I know that this is MY time with You, God, and I'm not competing with anyone else for "the best" report.

I want my faith to be something I'm excited for and want to share with others, not something I'm nervous and scared to talk about. At our Christmas program at church the other night, Jeff talked about being someone with peaceful joy even in the tough times. I want to be that person. I want You to ooze out of me so that everyone can see You and be drawn to You.

When I told my sister that I was going to be doing this silent retreat, she gave me the verse Ephesians 1:17 - 19: "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe."

What an amazing verse! Usually I have to read a verse two or three times to grasp it, but I got this one right away! I want to know You more. I have never thought of myself as a wise person, but the more I learn about You, the freer and wiser I feel. Not in a cocky way, but in an excited, light-bulb-going-off-over-my-head kind of way. I want "the eyes of my heart to be enlightened" so bright so that I'm blinded. Bring it on! "The hope to which You have called me" has shown me more freedom over the past year than I could have imagined. I know I still have a long way to go and I'm excited about getting there, but You have released me of prejudices and judgements that bound me and made me a closed person. Help me see You in everyone. If You love them, so should I.

1 Chronicles 29:17 "I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity."

My New Year's resolutions are to be less negative, try to find a positive side and to gossip less. Show me the difference, Lord, between complaining and venting (or if there even is a difference). Help me be a woman of integrity, to stand up for what I believe is right, not get walked over, but also not to complain if I did and was able to have done something about it, but didn't. Help me to set up healthy boundaries and to be open to new things, whatever they may be ... even if they challenge my comfort zones.

I feel You guiding me in my decisions at work. Thank You for that. Help me to always look for Your guiding hand and know You are standing beside me. I want to react with integrity no matter what happens with the jobs I've applied on. You are in charge. A job does not make me who I am and my happiness does not depend on where I work.

I love that You are showing me what it means to be loved by You. You love me, You love me, You love me and the more I understand and rest in that knowledge, the less I sweat the small things.

You are what matters. Remind me of this daily, please, because life is much easier when I acknowledge that and I feel myself wanting to be a better person when I remember it.

I cannot wait for the "riches of Your glorious inheritance." Thank You for this challenging time. Help me to yearn for more of it.

I'm going to frame this last picture as a reminder that as I wear a path through my journey of life, God is always wearing His own path right beside me.

So, was FOUR HOURS as hard as I thought? No, but I'm not going to lie to you ... it did feel long. I made it through, though. Did I feel like I had a miraculous vision and "heard" God speak to me? Maybe not in the way I was thinking He would when I was nervous about reporting back to the group, but I did feel Him cheering me on and encouraging me in the walk He's guiding me on. Tonight at Care Group more people are going to share about their silent retreats and I look forward to listening and being encouraged.


Unknown said...

Wow! Way to go Fiona. Not just for doing the 4-hour retreat (although I'm majorly impressed) but for being so open to what God wants to do in and through you. Very courageous!

Rachel said...

Yes...what Sonya said. Did you know you can go on retreats at the Abbey where you are silent for an entire weekend?!
I also want to say that having a care group with people from different churches is a great idea!

Anonymous said...

Your pictures are beautiful Fion. YOu have a real flair with the camera. I think you should investigate this more and invest in this more than a hobby. Seriously. Plus, I do love hearing about your silent retreat. I already commented on your previous blog entry but had to comment again as I think it is so important to grow in this discipline. I'd love to lead a women's retreat almost entirely spent in silence. Good on you for doing it. I'd love to hear what others in your care group thought of it. I'm so proud of you sis. I love hearing your thoughts. Jodi

reenda said...

you are a blessing to me, sister!
lin xo

Kori's House said...