Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sisters in Gray





February has been a month of church retreats. I went to three of them and kept my bags packed the whole month.  Retreat season is over for now until spring.  And I have a meeting this afternoon to plan a Renovare' retreat in the fall.

Let me tell you about the one I just came home from:

Here's a video of just one of the things that makes the Garland Women's Retreat so popular:



This is Bobbi Snider.  Every time she goes to sing I grab my camera and hope for a good seat.

Here's another video of her singing at the 2011 retreat.





But that wasn't the only great thing at the retreat.  I can show you gobs of photos of stuff.  Here's one of my favorite snaps:
I've known Royanne and Ardyce for over 35 years.  I found out that Ardyce recently celebrated her 80th birthday.  This came as a huge surprise--most of my friends are frozen into the age they were when I met them and Ardyce will always be 45 years old to me.

I took the picture just before Sunday morning's worship but the camera went off into it's own agenda and wanted to take the photo in black and white.  And I didn't have time to figure out how to change it. But now I see I like it better that way.

Then I noticed there was a common thread among my favorite photos of the weekend.  There was just a LOT of gray.  Like these shirts:

About a month ago, Crysta Brantley and I had a conversation over a term I heard: "Feral Christians."  We both feel kind of at loose ends right now, not sure which congregation we "belong" to.  We both have deep ties to the churches we attend now but also the churches we raised our kids in.  And we are not only comfortable wherever God puts us but we find a kinship with one of the attributes of feral animals: once they are set loose in the wild, you cannot domesticate them again. So I went out and had tshirts made for us.  Watch out world--we have gone feral.  Ferocious and feral.


 We had a great spot to just sit around and talk.  And Saturday afternoon we had a Taize service.  






I think my favorite photo of all was the picture of Traci's mom, Bette, and I sitting outside Sunday morning.  I had my coffee and Bette had her Dr Pepper. We just sat and listened to the birds. 


Bette had a stroke a couple of years ago.  Traci was the keynote speaker last year and she brought her mom with her.  For the last two years Traci has been the solo caretaker of her mother and it has paid off.  Her progress has been slow but consistent.  Traci says Bette is mostly concerned with getting back to walking and she has gained a lot of ground there but I think the stroke hit her the hardest in her speech.  She simply hasn't the wind to create much volume so it's hard to hear her, especially in a big room.  But in the last year her progress has been amazing.  It was as though a curtain had been lifted and we were able to hear all the things Bette has to say.

It was so nice to listen to the birds and just be still.  Anyone can get engulfed by sounds at a retreat like this one.  And, as friendly as we are, I realized that Better never had the opportunity to chose to initiate a conversation on her own schedule.  So I let the silence between us be a blanket of peace and freedom. And eventually she decided to comment on the birds but it got to be her choice.



My friends are getting old.  But the best thing about friends--no matter their age--is that we are all aging at the same rate:  one day, every day-- all of us at the same speed.  Whether we welcome the passage of time or not, it happens.

Walking the same path, going the same speed.  Walking together. Hearts beside hearts.

Let me end with a photo that was taken years ago.  It showed up while I was going through the other photos and I'm going to add it here just because I can.  It's my blog, after all.  It's my favorite photo of Joy Mullins.  Joy graduated to the Church Eternal several years ago.  I think this photo captured her in all her soft glory. Joy is someone we could all aspire to become as we walk together.  If a person gets even one Joy in her life she is blessed.  And I have many.  Thank you, God.

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