The women of Church of the Redeemer gathered last month for a weekend retreat to fellowship, pray and study Henri Nouwen’s book, Life of the Beloved. More than 30 women (and one infant!) participated. Today’s blog post features reflections from three women who attended the retreat.
I came away from the women’s retreat with my soul refreshed and with deeper connections with my sisters in Christ. For me, one of the most meaningful parts of the weekend was hearing the sweet and vulnerable stories from other women as well as having the honor and privilege of sharing my own story as an instrument of God’s work. I loved focusing on Henri Nouwen’s book. I will forever cherish the extended amounts of free time we were given to connect more deeply with each other while hiking, playing games, or just sitting and talking. And on a random note, I did not know I would come away having learned yet another difference in dialect between where I grew up (western Missouri) and Minnesota: The word “ornery” is pronounced in Minnesota just like it is spelled. Where I grew up it is “on-ree”!
I am not a regular attendee of Redeemer, but whenever I’ve visited I’ve been so struck by the welcoming community. When I was invited to attend the women’s retreat I jumped at the chance since everyone I’ve met has been so genuine and warm. The retreat did not disappoint. I’m honestly overwhelmed by how many extraordinary women were in the same place at the same time. I’ve recently experienced a serious tragedy and during the weekend felt a real shared sense of pathos, care, generosity, and willingness to be present and hold space for grief.
Vulnerable beauty is how I would describe what surrounded me at our retreat a few weeks ago. To have the opportunity to be with many of the women in our church for an extended amount of time was a precious gift. Bright, witty, artistic, soft, thoughtful, charismatic — I could list pages of characteristics that I witnessed in the women of this congregation. After being with the group I have a new prayer for our church: Lord bless these women in all that they do. Thank you for the different stages in life, multitude of gifts, and the spirit of Christ that abides among them and binds them together. May we protect each other in prayer and love when we are in our most raw state. Thank you for each one of them. Thank you for your protection of us as a congregation when we feel vulnerable. Thank you for making beautiful things.