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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Thursday, June 19, 2008


That's where I was last week: a conference/directed retreat/course thingy (I'm not sure which is most accurate; there are elements of each), sponsored by our national Church Pension folks. Eight days (counting travel time) of prayer, relaxation, conversation and discernment in four major areas (physical, financial, vocational and spiritual) affecting one's life and health. They hold these several times a year, at various locations around the country.

The session I attended was at The Bishop's Ranch, the Diocese of California's retreat and conference center just outside of Healdsburg. It's a lovely place, nestled in the middle of wine country, with comfortable facilities and beautiful scenery. It also has some moderately difficult hiking trails to help work off the seriously good cooking they offered.

Lots of preparation went into this time. Surveys and assessments (done by the participants and others) and a thorough physical exam, among other things.

It was hard for me to take such a concentrated block of time away, and I grumbled about all the prep work to boot: don't they realize that some of us work for a living? But I'm grateful I made the choice to do it. I had time to sift through my life as a priest-- time that I normally don't have, and am not good about taking. I was reminded that there are a few things I actually do right, now and again; and I had some help in considering changes to make, to improve in areas that challenge me. And perhaps best of all, there was the gift of liturgy in which I was involved only as participant-- focused prayer and worship that I did not have to plan or arrange or lead or critique. I'd almost forgotten what that feels like.

Oh, and there was play time, too! With clergy from all over everywhere. How great to meet folks that I wouldn't know, otherwise. To learn that some new friends are full of infectious joy-- I laughed myself silly, more than once!-- while others are perfect hiking partners, because they go at their own pace and leave me to go at mine, in comfortable silence.

I am re-entering my real life, and beginning to implement some of the goals I set for myself, and for this ministry, as part of the process. Only time will tell how it will all pan out. However, another great thing about this is that they offer a number of tools and aids to support and continue the discernment and work as time goes on.

One reminder I was given was how how good my body feels when I take the time to make it work. So I'm off to see about that. Looks like a great day for a bike ride!


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