Awake early and not with a hymn (although the song Uptown Girl was there for some reason – not one of my favourites). A peaceful morning prayer in the chapel on my own before breakfast, committing the day ahead to God. I have been reading a book about being in God’s presence: Abandonment to God’s Presence. It’s an old Christian classic that my spiritual director suggested when I told her I was getting into mindfulness at the school and finding it a helpful way back into silent prayer. The author suggests that we become aware of God’s presence and providence in all our activities and circumstances of our lives …. at least that’s what I think he means. It isn’t an easy read but I will persevere with it.
Our art lesson today was painting flowers. I nearly skipped it, but decided to see how it went. My reasoning was that if this is the retreat for me this year and part of discerning the way forward, then according to the principles of Divine Providence the book espouses, then I should go along with it. And I am glad I did. I was very pleased with the results and learnt some useful watercolour techniques.
My after lunch walk by the sea was an opportunity to once again seek inspiration for the quotation to finish my heart painting. The sea has been quite lively the last couple of days with winds and waves blowing over the promenade. This morning one man got hit in the head with a fish!!! By lunchtime the tide was out so I was safe from flying fish. I noticed some prawns stranded on a rock, left high and dry and I reflected that God would never do that to me. He will always be there and I prayed that I would always be in the flow of God’s love and the Holy Spirit. I remembered that someone once said that when the tide of the spirit goes out all the shrimps are left in their own rock pools (I think that’s correct, but if not I’m sure I’ll be corrected).
As I continued the walk I was drawn to Ephesians 1:18 and held on to that as I walked and indeed it was from that verse that I made the final choice. I pray that I will increase in being aware of God’s grace at work in my life and that I am part of what he is doing in the church and that his great power is at work in my life.
Ephesians 1:17-23 (NIV). I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
The gold paint wasn’t easy to write with. I may do this again and improve on it, especially as I messed up Ephesians by missing the ‘h’ out and having to do some repair work. I was annoyed but not as annoyed as I would have been a few years ago. I must be improving!
After tea we had a group session where we each shared something about our life for 10 minutes. I wasn’t sure what to share and thought I would either share about my book or the sabbatical last year and the interest I have in art and faith. Consequently I started off ill prepared (never a good thing) , stumbled my way through telling them about what I’d been doing and then in response to being asked questions told them quite a lot of my life story – and they seemed interested. In the end I told them they would have to buy the book when it comes out and I suggested they follow this blog!!!! I intend to put some of the content on here, although I do need to speak to publishers I hope to go with about that. I presume that as it is my work then I have copyright and I can share it if I want to.
And so this retreat draws to and end with a final communion service this evening. We depart after breakfast tomorrow.