On the weekend of April 21, 32 women from across our diocese gathered for the Spring Women’s Retreat at St John the Baptist, Duncan. Selinde Krayenhoff, a priest of the diocese and our facilitator, led us in exploring our understanding of the “divine exchange.” Whether we came seeing ourselves as “givers” or “receivers,” we quickly learned the importance of both for balance in our lives, and how integral they are to our relationship with God. In our creation, God formed us, and in breathing into us, gave us life. Our first act as newborns is to breathe, receiving life. Throughout our life we continue to let go of and receive another breath, unaware of the process but powered by our breathing and thankful for it. In that natural flow, we can hear the still small voice of God, ever present, like a Mobius or Infinity loop.
It is God’s nature to give constantly and in abundance as the perpetual giver — the Alpha and the Omega. Looking at how we perceive God as giver in our own life, our response will naturally be one of gratitude and thanksgiving. And in that spirit, we pass on God’s gifts from ourselves to others. What interrupts that natural relationship? We looked at the barriers preventing us from receiving God’s giving — the external (busyness, expectations of others, increasing physical limitations and so forth) and the internal (“how long must I hold an obligation?”, self expectations, pride, wanting to be seen as “acceptable” or “good enough” or “valued” because of what we do and so on).
As Saturday afternoon progressed, we examined what change would look like as we let go of those barriers. Our gratitude would flow out and our receiving would flow in as naturally as breathing. We could find comfort in the practice of ceremony or ritual or gesture as a pathway to bypass the confusion and “white noise” of our lives. We could be open, surrendering to receive another’s prayers and in return, feel the safe intimate, refreshed and full-hearted thanksgiving of our own connection to God.
After a delicious catered dinner, we concluded our retreat with our time-worn intentional and strengthening ritual of holy eucharist. Thanks be to God for this time, set apart to build up and encourage us.