That’s a line from the blessing song that the Sisters of Our Lady of Grace always sang to the Women Touched by Grace at our final worship together. The Sisters’ arms outstretched to the 30 women clergy who had finished yet another ten glorious day retreat, it’s a tune that is often in my head whenever I say goodbye.
In less than two hours I begin the airport shuffle back to Houston. I’ve sung Noonday Praise with the Sisters one last time, I’ve had my last meal, I’m nearly packed up, and I’ve done a final walk around the Monastery which included my final labyrinth walk.
I’ve walked the labyrinth each day–in cold and colder; wind, snow, and rain; sun and overcast. Today was the first day that I didn’t need a coat, and the sky was bright clear blue and the leaves were even more technicolor. As I prayed while I walked I became aware why this retreat was especially sweet.
I came here from another retreat, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas Clergy Conference at Camp Allen, and I’d had good worship and food and fellowship and intellectual stimulation and affirmations and rest. I left there full of joy and came to this retreat already in a very good place.
While I was here in Beech Grove, I started the six week Well to Serve program, and it’s always a surprise how good walking 10,000 steps each day and eating healthy, especially giving up sugar, makes me feel. But I think that it was the openness of my time that gave me true rest.
My ordinary daily life is very full and scheduled, and here there was very little required these past five days, and much free time in between those very few events that I felt like I was floating in a large, warm lake. Because I wasn’t running to the next thing, I was able to accept invitations to stop and chat or share a meal. On Saturday night I went to the Knights of Columbus with three sisters, where nuns eat free (I got to as well!). It was the best gift not to hurry.
My heart continues to be very full of gratitude. I have another song in my head, a hymn we sang yesterday during the Eucharist: