retreat, fires, Ash Wednesday and community

i’m still recovering from a bad head and chest cold, which has left me weak, tired and coughing.  boo.

last weekend, the ladies from training school went to Brown County for our retreat.  we stayed in a cabin and i quickly found myself wrapped in a fleece blanket, sitting in a chair by the fire.  if we didn’t have a class session or i wasn’t cooking, i was fast asleep.  finally by Saturday afternoon, i was rested up again and went for a walk.

God and i have been on an interesting journey.  during the retreat, i felt the need to fast, but it was unlike any fast i’ve ever done.  first off, i was fasting in the midst of community.  it was undeniable that i wasn’t eating and i wanted to be active in the communal aspect of meals, so i sat with everyone while they ate.  also, everyone in their turn took care of me in some way.  one lady volunteered her homemade smoothie, while another offered to cook for me.  another prayed for me and listened while long-withheld tears finally found their way to my cheeks.

and God kept whispering that i should rest.  just rest.  i pictured him as He is in Psalm 23, the Great Shepherd leading me beside still waters to rest.  and while he sat there, on his knees, beckoning for me, i just ran anxious circles around him, unable to stop.  the fast quickly brought that to an end, and i surrendered to rest.

the wonderful women at the retreat: Kelly, Laura, Marty, Ashley and BJ.

training school ladies-BJ, me, Ashley-in front of our cabin.

the weekend was also really good for the three of us women in the training school, as we got to share about different things going on.  we shared laughter and tears and encouragement.  secrets and wonderings.  it was beautiful.

when we got back into town, Ashley and i decided to stop by and visit another friend from the class, JR, at his firehouse.  he gave us the tour and we stayed for a bit, talking and sharing about our collective weekends.  then the pagers went off for them to go on a run, and he asked if we wanted to ride along.  like eager little children, we climbed into the back seat and tried to contain our excitement.  it wasn’t a fire or anything really exciting…it was just fun to ride in the truck.

me and Ash with our headsets on.

JR, me, and Ash with Engine 24

so, as far as class goes…this next week we will be facilitating an Ash Wednesday celebration with the staff at Common Ground, which should be really good.  we have split into groups and divided the staff.  we’ll start with a walk around the city, a Toronto-esque walk, then go to St. John’s downtown for mass, then to the bus station for a group debriefing before heading back to the church.  then the guys will head to Utah to hike the canyon for a week, for their manly version of retreat.

tonight, our house is full, as is usual, and warm with the smell of brownies baking and Iron and Wine drifting through the air.  lately, i am working to balance my desire for independence with the need to sacrifice for the good of the whole.  as i’ve said before, much tension.  but also much beauty.  beautifully broken people struggling together toward some sort of wholeness.


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