Rest and Retreat

It did not start well. Thanks to my carelessness, and disorganisation, a late night turned into a restless one, such that when exhaustion took its toll, I missed my alarm, and set out later than the time I expected to arrive at Stanton House. I got there, eventually, with a few seconds’ breathing space before lunch, embarrassed by my physical state and disorientation. “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan”…. I certainly felt laughed at.

Maybe that was a good thing. The food at Stanton House is to die for, and after lunch, energised by anger, I sat down to tackle Psalm 139. I have long wrestled with this Psalm. Every time it was read, I felt that God was laughing at me. Affirming my life as a cruel, creative joke. Yet, it is a treasured Psalm for others, and often read aloud (or the parts that are in the lectionaries are read aloud). Someone, noticing my distress at it, charged me to wrestle with the Psalm further, strive towards what God is really saying to me through it. From anger, and a restless mind, in the sanctuary of the house, I calmed. Was offered a new understanding of its song. You can read my interpretation of that Psalm here.

I sat at that Psalm all afternoon, praying through it.I breathed. I felt good to have that understanding. I glimpsed a God who loves me. A divine supper followed, then the only structured activity offered at Stanton House, evening devotion. Inspired by my earlier wrestling, I reacted too, to Philippians 3. I felt calmed by the writing, and held. And tired, and peaceful, and I slept. Truly, deeply, slept.

I filled the next days with writing and prayerful meditation. I scrapbooked some further details of my childhood; felt able to write about that part of my childhood. That was a first. There is no way I did that in my own strength. I grappled with Psalm 1, and Proverbs 28 v 13 (a verse I discovered in the prayer cabin one day). Each time I wrote I felt more loved, more accepted.

I also walked the grounds, and around the village of Stanton St. John. I did so mindfully, taking my camera with me. I find my camera lens to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, looking through it, you miss some of what is happening in real-life. Your attention might be pointing the wrong way. On the other, there are some moments that need to be photographed. The sunlight on and under the swing in the village. I’ve written about my life as a swing. Here was a swing bathed in light. And I was reminded of that image again at devotion, on Mark 9 v 2-9. I wrote once more. As I walked I prayed. And prayed. I breathed, and felt deep peace.

I meditated on one of my favourite Bible passages, too, John 4, Jacob’s well. I love returning to it, as each time I hear something different. This time was no exception, although certainly not what I expected to hear after the peace of the past few days: that’ll be God. I broke down then, cried. But that’s OK with God. He wants me to be real.

I feel I’ve been challenged by God, too. That’s scary, and I’m sure I’m not able to rise to the challenge. I’ve even been told it’s a big task. But, if that’s what God wants then….I shall try. Nothing is impossible, after all.

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This entry was posted in faith, mental health, plans, prayer, trust. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Rest and Retreat

  1. Pingback: Like a Lamb | Discovering Faith (and Doubt and Hope) in Jesus

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