When this post is published, I will be at Bethlehem Centre for the opening weekend of this year’s Living from the Heart. Last year we had a new team, new format, new location, and a new intern. It was also my first time coordinating a team.
This year the theme of new things continues. Because retreat centres in the Lower Mainland are not receiving groups, we are going to Vancouver Island–another new location and a new way of doing things due to COVID. One detail that needs to be attended to surfaces, then others, followed by emails or Zoom meetings. It’s hard to relax and trust.
I was at Bethlehem Centre five years ago, leading a contemplative retreat for women. I travelled there with my friends Theresa and Gail.
During the retreat, I talked about stillness. I passed around a jar of pond water and asked each person to name what was going on in them at that moment that made it hard to settle.
“Give the jar a shake before you pass it to the person next to you,” I said. Then, when we were finished passing it around, I set it down.
Over the weekend, the water in the jar turned from cloudy to completely clear. The jar told us what stillness needs and what it offers.
When it was time to pack up and go home, I picked up the jar. Theresa laughed and said, “Don’t shake it!”
I stopped and saw what she saw. I was holding something sacred that had settled in us that weekend. She didn’t want to lose it.
I know what stillness needs; I know what it offers. And I know that right now, I am a shaken up jar.
Even so, You are holding me in Your still hands, inviting me to watch the details settle and see what you see.
Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” —Psalm 46:10 (MSG)
∗ ∗ ∗
It takes a lot of dedication and support to open and maintain a retreat centre. We are so grateful for the Love Mischief of Bethlehem Centre, located near Nanaimo, B.C. The centre “encourages and supports the expression of beliefs and values about humanity, spirituality, healing and peace. We welcome groups and individuals exploring a spiritual path and seeking a gathering place for education, reflection and community building.”