The best 'retreat' for me includes time behind the keys. The most powerful moments of any break or focused personal spiritual formation time for me include those with my hands on a piano. Somehow, it remains the purest form of prayer for me - straight from my head, through my heart, out the tips of my fingers.
I struggle with relationships. I do have issues with my image of God. I worry way too much about what others think of me.
But there is purity when I play for myself.
My heart leapt when I walked - early - into the Solarium where we would begin our retreat. Tucked into the corner was a beautiful baby grand.
I smiled and sat down to play; a single candle was lit in the center of the room, but it was still and empty of people. The keys were unfamiliar to me, and it took a while to get comfortable. I played tentatively and softly, just enough to loosen up my soul as I prepared to meet and interact with whoever would be filling the six empty chairs in the room. I closed my eyes.
When the air stirred, I looked up to see the retreat facilitator sitting, her eyes closed as well. I stopped and she said, "Thank you."
The other chairs filled; a former teacher, a professor, a Richmond Hill intern, a retail clerk, a mother. We said shy hellos and got brief bits of info about the schedule.
We had time to relax, to walk around the beautiful grounds, to rest.
|You can see the city from this vantage point...|
We met in the chapel for prayer; the community gathers three times each day to pray, following the Book of Common Prayer. For those of us who are unfamiliar with the rhythm of a liturgical service, leaders take great pains to explain carefully what to do, where to find the prayers, how to respond. Each time of prayer is "seeker sensitive" and inclusive.
Prayer is relatively short, followed by a meal.
We met in the Solarium again after dinner. I went up early again and opened my heart over the piano.
Our facilitator told us that our evening activity would center on Lectio Divina.
In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's Word. It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word. Traditionally Lectio Divina has 4 separate steps: read, meditate, pray and contemplate. First a passage of Scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God. The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning. - (source)She read aloud to us. Her voice was honey, smooth, gentle, beckoning. I listened; she read the same passage a total of six times, with the ultimate question being What do you think God is saying to you?
The scripture was this passage from Matthew's gospel:
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.Every person in our circle heard - received - something different and definitive from the passage.
Taken completely by surprise.
I'm writing about my retreat to Richmond Hill this week. Stay tuned for more tomorrow...