Last Thursday morning the seven of us (Claire, Jane, Olivia, Caleb, Elias, James, and I) traveled to our first spiritual retreat with Debbie Smith at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. I wasn’t sure what to expect as we pulled up to the church’s rectory. We sat around on retro couches facing a large window in the living room.
After introducing ourselves, we dove into reading and discussing an excerpt from Mudhouse Sabbath followed by an introduction to Lectío Dívína, a process that uses Scripture to listen to God. However, it was the next session that was the most exciting and out of the box experience. Debbie had shared with us how to combine praying Scripture and imagination to allow God to speak to us through the practice of gospel contemplation.
The seven of us left the rectory, as we had an hour and a half to spend with God in either the church’s sanctuary or along the gorgeous walking path. I walked slowly as I opened my heart and soul to receive what message God had for me. As I walked to my special spot, a bench just off the path, my feet reached the grass of the small meadow that the path surrounded. I thought to myself how I didn’t want to get my feet all wet and grassy as it had rain that morning but I continued to walk further into the meadow. To my great surprise, my feet were not getting wet as the grass seemed to be somewhat dry. That’s when it hit me that God cares even about our smallest and non-significant wants and desires.
As I sat down on the bench, I began to read the scripture that was picked out for us, Mark 10:46-52 and I let my imagination run. Jericho started to come to life. I smelled bread baking, heard children laughing and the sound of the wheels turning on the carts being pulled by donkeys. I then saw Jesus surrounded by a large crowd as I began looking around for the blind man, I was surprised to find out that I was playing the role of the blind man. This surprised me as I thought that I would have been someone off to the side watching what took place. I began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David!” only to be hushed like in the passage. When I made it to Jesus he said, “Child, what can I do for you?” I suddenly felt the challenge and oddity of this exercise and prayed for guidance. I then re-entered my mini “movie” and Jesus said, “I heal you from your anxiety.”
It was at this moment I realized that my anxiety was holding me back in worship, fellowship, and in understanding God’s plan for me. As the hour and a half came to an end, I felt God had said to me, “I OPENED your eyes now didn’t I? I do not work in the ways that you expect but trust that everything is done with a purpose and with my plan in mind.” This brings me so much comfort in everyday life and with my journey with Siloam.
I am not going to understand all the cultures with which I come in contact, nor the suffering and hardships of the refugees, nor the health conditions of the patients but God knows their individual stories and is graciously weaving them all into my own story.
Madison is a participant in Siloam’s Community Health Immersion.