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Sunday, May 1, 2011

What we take with us

I have spent this weekend as one of the "prayer guides" for 4 retreatants who are experiencing a silent retreat.  

I am writing this morning from a picnic table outside of the main building at Five Oaks, a United Church conference centre outside of Paris, Ontario. I can hear at least 3 kinds of birdsong. Because they are not leafed out yet, I can see down a hillside of trees to the Grand River. The property includes a place where you can stand and look at, and listen to the confluence of the waters of Whiteman's Creek and the Grand River. It is a beautiful place, that people have been coming to for many years, in search of quiet, and peace, and a sense of connection to the Creator of all this beauty.

Every time I go somewhere on retreat, I find a stone to bring home. Or it finds me. Yesterday I was walking down stairs cut into the hillside, and notice a weathered rock about the size of a walnut, that has a flattened base. On the bottom of the stone there is a formation of 5 small indentations. This seemed a perfect memento. It has an interesting look and feel to it, and it fits my baic requirement of memory stones, that I can easily hold it in my palm, and close my fingers around it.

It will find a home in a bowl of rocks that sits on the side table in my office prayer corner.

One of the questions we will ask the retreatants today at the closing worship time this afternoon, is what they will take away with them, when they leave Five Oaks. I think it is a good query to put into people's minds. I also think that it is a hard one to answer.

I don't quite know why the rock I found yesterday speaks to me. What is it that I see in it? I may have it for a long time before I "get it".

I have some vague inklings of what else I take away with from this retreat weekend. (What learnings, insights, hopes, challenges?) As with my new stone, I may have to hold them, and let them warm in my hands, before I can really grasp them.