Thursday is the last full day of Companions. We’re at the point where I’ve gotten to know some folks pretty well since the week began, and it’s fun to spend time with them. But I’m also very ready to get home to Sarah and Caleb and get back into the regular routines of life in Chicago. It’s also the point in the week when my body is realizing that as much as I love the beauty of Tahoe and the cooler weather and dry climate, my lips are chapped like crazy and asking where the humidity is!
A note about the breakfast time that we have together – we are encouraged to have a silent breakfast (though there is only one completely silent table) but that is easier said than done at times. I generally found myself sitting at tables that held that suggestion a little looser than others, but I did spend my first day on Monday morning pretty much in silence during breakfast.
After breakfast, we met with Luther for our last morning session. He shared about a lot of different things: the Sermon on the Mount, loving our enemies, forgiveness and much more.
A lot of what is involved in being able to forgive and love our enemies has to do with expanding our hearts. Luther talked about three ways that we can work on expanding our hearts: hospitality, the work of justice and engaging with beauty. He mentioned a quote from Evelyn Underhill, but it looks like she may have gotten it from Rabindranath Tagore.
Beauty is reality seen through eyes of love.
Our time of integration involved creating art and spending time out in nature (never a bad thing to do in Tahoe). I did a little work with pastels (my first time) though I think I went through 1 or 2 black pastels when I made this:
After our time in Integration, we got into our regular afternoon routine with lunch and Sabbath time. One benefit of having your spiritual director leading the retreat you go to is that you can have a session with your spiritual director. So I spent some time that afternoon in spiritual direction, and then got a chance to do a little bit of work and rest before we had our afternoon worship service.
Wonderful preaching, moving music and a very special time of celebrating the Eucharist. Afternoon worship has been one of my favorite times during this retreat. I don’t have a worshipping community that has music like what we were doing this past week, and I’ve found it to be very refreshing and worshipful.
After worship and dinner, we had our last group time doing lectio divina. I felt a bit stuck by the passage of loving my enemies. The first thing that came to mind for me was how this plays into our current political climate, and trying to figure out how to love Trump and Trump supporters. They seemed like the easiest enemies to pick out that I should love – but I wonder if there are other enemies of mine that are more subtle, that I’m not as aware of, but they are still people I should be loving. In the end, I think I just realized that I need to remind myself more open about the call to love our enemies.
One of our leaders of the Companions retreat is Marjorie Hoyer Smith – and this was her 50th Companions on the Inner way retreat that she helped to lead. Quite amazing! She has been leading our time of Integration this week, has been a co-celebrant with Jeff Gaines for communion, and has shared some of her liturgical dance gifts with us. This is also her last Companions retreat, and so we had a big party for Marjorie this evening and celebrated her gifts and contributions to this retreat over the many years she’s been involved. We then finished the evening with a Compline service of singing, reflection and prayers.
It’s hard to believe that Friday is our last day together – but it’s continued to be such a wonderful event to be at, and I’m so grateful that I could be here and could be blogging about my experience at the Companions on the Inner Way retreat.