The past couple of weeks have brought on some fascinating insights, some enlightening conversations and many, many laighs. We had visitors from Lenox, Massachusetts, former FVM Frederick Keator and his lovely wife, Renee just before we left for retreat. We also were invited to a Ball... yep, like Cinderella. Then we departed for our Spring Retreat! With some great conversations along the way, we made it to the Mountain in about 7 hours (it should normally be about 5.5... thanks to my bladder). Reuniting with Emily and Joanne was comforting and so unbelievably necessary, which I didn't realize until I was there.
During retreat, we were at morning prayer one day and one of the favored Scripture meditations at the Mountain is "Be still and know that I am God." We break it down until we are instructed simply to just "be". One particular morning, as Katie was guiding us in this meditation, just as the word "Be" came out of her mouth, this brilliant and all-encompassing ray of sunshine poured through the wall of windows of the chapel that overlooks the mountains of western New York. It was God. There's no doubt in my mind. Later in the day, I mentioned the moment of grace and everyone indicated that they'd taken note of it as well. It got me to thinking how individual God's love is for us that He uses messages/signs that we can see, that I as a person am able to receive. For me, I hear a lot of what God is speaking to me through lyrics, stories... essentially through words. I can take the occasional ethereal sunbeam or moment of "coincidence," but because I thrive so much in the concrete, the written word, that is how God speaks to me. For others, He uses those mystical instances, or other people, or silent meditation, or whatever else it might be, but because He desires so much for us to be close to Him, He'll do whatever He can to get us to that point. It was a pretty comforting and certainly reassuring revelation for me.
So retreat was wonderful. We got back to a week of insanity! Friends of mine from high school came down to visit. I was initially apprehensive because they profess, as their religious views, agnosticism at best. My life here in Philadelphia has become so rooted in my faith I was nervous that either a)it would be too overbearing for them or b)I would find little to talk with them about. However, we spent the weekend as we spent our high school days and many after that, laughing and having a great time. In addition to working, we were able to get out and see the city a bit! My friends and I certainly don't see eye-to-eye on religion or spirituality yet we both thoroughly enjoy serving, we enjoy helping others and we have a lot of fun doing it. It made me realize that all I care about is that people do good for each other, that people help one another and that each person treats everyone they meet with love and respect. It doesn't matter their rationale for doing it or their motivation, but as long as people are being treated fairly and lovingly, then who can really say that they are wrong? Mine so happens to be that we are all children of God and that I try to see God in every person I meet, but that may not work for everyone. So I think we're called to be open to whatever it is that drives people to help others and to recognize them as grace in our lives.
Since the visit from Courtney and Lindsay, I've been spending a lot of time with our summer intern from last year, Will and his friend, David. We've been really busy but it's been a really great couple of days!
Monday, however, we were notified that one of our guests, Cheryl, was murdered about 5 blocks from us here at the Inn. She leaves behind a boyfriend and 6-month-old son, Michael. Please pray for them, they are in great need. We're all dealing with Cheryl's death and are doing what we can to support little Michael's dad so that he can maintain his sobriety and continue to care for his son. Again, any prayers you can send would be greatly appreciated!
Well, I'm sorry this post was so long! Thank you all for all your prayers! Much love and peace are sent your way from the City of Brotherly Love!