I am sharing a few of my journal entries from a three day silent directed retreat held by Christview Ministries at Little Portion Retreat Center in Eureka Springs, Arkansas April 13-15, 2012.
Everything seems so sensual this morning.
I slept fitfully last night and finally about3:30 am prayed that God would help me sleep. I dreamed of running through soft grass and swimming naked crystal clear hot springs with the water wrapping around my body.
I awoke and performed my morning yoga. I think that will become a routine again and I felt blood flow and course and my body hummed happy like a well-oiled machine.
The sky is hazy- not gray specifically, but the haziness that comes with humidity and soon-coming rain. The kind of haze that makes colors shout out their names and reminds you of the beach in midwinter.
Even breakfast caressed the senses this morning. Still simple fare, no gourmet chefs here these monks, but simple food from God’s bounty prepared with love and care. This morning we ate scrambled eggs and biscuits with link sausage from a package and I nearly did a cartwheel when the monk rang the bell for breakfast.
A smile, bright like joy itself, sprang to my lips when this man and woman spooned up God’s nourishment and I desperately wanted to bubble out “Thank you” but we are still giving each other the gift of silence and I have a breakfast date with Jesus so my smile like joy will have to do and I bound away happy.
I pour a glass of water flavored with lemons and oranges. I taste the slick spring water and it leaps to life on my tongue. Bright notes of floral and citrus play together and maybe a little mint and my heart sings because I am in love again….with this water, with this place, but especially with the Maker of it all.
I linger over breakfast. The smooth blanket of biscuit with fresh butter and strawberry jam, eggs scrambled just right- still soft and so warm. I salt the fruit to taste its flavors and they pop and kiss and mingle together in my mouth and my heart sings happy because I am in love again.
After breakfast, I head out to the place God prepared to do our last Lectio Divina. I’ve saved a verse about battle (2 Chronicles20:15-17) for last, for the time before I return to the real world.
For a moment, I feel fear and doubt rush in. There is no Absolam here. There has been a caterpillar to greet me along every steo of my journey there sort of as a guide to confirm my steps are his will.
“Oh, but I am here.”
I look down and there is a brown and black caterpillar I’ve looked for and found everywhere along the way crawling up my pant’s leg. I wonder silently how long he’s been there.
“All along,” comes a chuckle from God, “all along.”
So I sit and pray and open my Bible to appropriate passage and begin to dig in with God.
I expect words like “Fight the good fight.” And “Go tell the nations.” But instead, Jesus lets me off the hook. He took down the chore list from the refrigerator. You know the one with:
20 min of quiet time
20 min Bible study
Invite people to church
You know that list? The one that straps me into to “doing” everyday and fills me with shame at my failure every night? Jesus gently takes it off the fridge and crumples it and throws it in the trash.
“The battle is not yours, but God’s,” He says. “Stand firm, hold your position and watch the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.”
I stutter denials and but, buts.. and he says:
“I’ve given you a story. Tell yours and they will hear Mine. Love. Go in peace and stand firm.”
And then we sit for an hour and talk about fear-
Of doing too much.
Of doing too little.
Of letting go of fear itself.
Jesus says “Trust me.”
“You make it sound so simple,” I say.
He chuckles, “Simple is not always easy, Cari.”
He doesn’t always sound like my Dad, but today he does and I love him even more for it.
So, OK…Practice trust. Simply trust.
And then Jesus blows my mind-
“Listen. You are doing the right thing. There is no right or wrong way to draw near to me. No twelve step formula to hear my voice. Just listen. Listen for me.”
I breathe deep his peace and look down. There in the leaves are two more Absolams. They raise up the front part of their bodies as if to speak to me or say “Hello.”
But I think perhaps they are saying, “Goodbye,Alice. Until we meet again.”
15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them,and the Lord will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 15-17