Lenten Retreat: Slow Time on Tybee

One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked this week is, “So what exciting plans do you have for today?”

My friend and I usually respond first with silence and then say something about walking on the beach or making cards or being quiet.  The very kind folks usually follow up with a list of delightful suggestions of things we should do.  I am grateful, but those kinds of activities haven’t been what I’ve been looking for this trip.

I’ve been thinking about the need to do things.  I have a job, which I love beyond words, that is full of  things done, and more often, left undone.  I am aware of how every choice I make has consequences, not only for me, but for a host of other people. I get a lot of feedback when those choices have unintended consequences, both positive and not so positive.  It takes a lot of thought and even more prayer to go though each day as a priest.

These past eleven months I’ve had even more things done and left undone because of decisions about rebuilding the Rectory.  I’ve gotten to a point that when friends ask me to make a choice, if it really isn’t a big deal, I want them to make it (Which seat do you want?  Where do you want to eat?  Which movie shall we go see?).

On these five days on Tybee Island, number fourteen of what began as a vacation lo that many years back and has become an annual Lenten retreat, I find myself on slow time.  I love not having the clock tell me when to get up and having no schedule to follow.  My friend, who went through the flood, literally, with me, is going through her own healing process post-Tax Day Flood, and is in sync with floating through these days.

I’ve floated into new places this year.  This morning instead of getting up to see the sunrise, I slept in.  I was rewarded with flocks of birds in front of my cottage–herons, egrets, cardinals, and even bluebirds.

Yesterday, on our one, and most likely only trip off the Island until I fly home tomorrow, at breakfast at one of my favorite places in Savannah, Back in the Day Bakery, while enjoying the most delicious breakfast biscuit I’ve ever eaten with a luscious, foamy cappuccino, a woman dressed in very simple clothes stopped on the street, and appeared to look longingly at us eating our fabulous upscale treats.  After she began to walk away, on what I believe was a Holy Spirit nudge, I went out to offer to buy her breakfast.  If she was hungry, how could I eat this extravagant meal?  Alas, she was gone from view.

I looked out and saw several men on the corner, gathering because a mission that provided resources for them was across the street.  How could I keep from sharing?  As my friend and I left, a took a hundred dollar bill I keep hidden in my wallet for emergencies, and went inside and gave to The Old Savanah City Mission.  #15 of the 24 Project.  

After lovely pedicures at a spa in Savannah, my friend and I decided the other things we’d thought about doing–visiting an art museum, shopping at SCAD, lunch at a favorite local barbecue place– were things that could be left undone.  Largely, I’ll admit, at her urging, we returned to the Island in time for the Thursday healing Eucharist.

I’m accomplishing what I think God has in store for me this retreat in Lent:  time for my soul to catch up with my body.

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