On Saturday I joined a group of about fifteen writers for a writers’ retreat. A day to join others of my tribe for a day of quiet focused work in a beautiful serene setting without the normal interruptions and distractions. We were encouraged to work in unplugged silence, gathering only at set times of the day.
It was one of the best days ever! That morning I had my quiet time, working through Romans Ch 3. My Bible study asked me to define Faith, and read the great hall of the faithful in Hebrews ch 11. This is what I came up with, what I felt God place on my heart:
Faith is showing up to do your share of the work, trusting God to do show up and do His. Faith is Noah building the ark, Abraham moving to an unknown place, and David standing in front of Goliath. Faith is my showing up at the page, at the retreat, trusting that God will meet me there.
As I entered the morning session of quiet work, I prayed for God to meet me there with words, images, and pictures. I prayed for knots to unravel, paths to straighten and for mountains to move to clear sightlines. And then I got to work. I showed up and did my part. And trusted that God would do his. He did.
The retreat center had a religious affiliation; the group of writers did not. The center had a labyrinth, and I walked it, as did many of my co-retreaters. A sign suggested the walk to the center involve consciously emptying your mind, releasing worries or problems, then pausing in the center to receive what God had for you, before making your way back out focusing on integrating what you have received into your life.
I walked the labyrinth with a specific question in mind and felt a clear answer given to me. I found myself tempted to look ahead along the path several times, to follow the path with my eyes quickly before my feet reached it slowly. Each time, God pulled my attention back to my feet. I just want to know where I’m going, I said. Trust me, trust the path, He replied.
I walked slowly, observing the pebbles and small stones that covered the surface, like all the people who cover the Earth and walk in the way of God. Some are bigger than other and make themselves more noticeable. Others are small and nestle in with other stones, seemingly content to be one among many. All take up space and serve a valuable purpose.
Grasses sprouted up, tickling my ankles, making their presence known. Walk on, I felt I was being told. Sometimes we must stop and clear the path of these distractions, but many times we can walk past, noticing them, but not allowing them to hinder our progress. Weeds grow and they, too, are part of God’s Kingdom, and can co-exist without hindering.
For the most part, I spent my day with my own words. Just once, I opened a book I had brought and took a peek. Among the first words I read were “writing is an act of faith.” Message received, I went back to my own words.
At the end of the retreat, we all came back together and shared what the day had meant to us. Several of the participants mentioned the labyrinth and the solutions it had brought or the peace it had shared with them. One writer wondered aloud about the mystery of this place. A non-believer, she was experiencing the peace of God without knowing what or who it was.
The day brought me peace and clarity. I was reminded to put one foot in front of the other and walk in faith, not worrying or trying to look ahead. Trust the one whose path it is. He will guide you home.
Show up. Do your share of the work. Have faith and trust God to do His part.
Thanks be to God for His bountiful gifts.