I do appreciate the opportunity to be able to go on a retreat. Traveling to a camp or s tranquil location, preferably by water, to be with other people can be a revitalizing experience.
Many years ago, I was stationed at Great Lakes, Il Naval Training Center. I was one of many Chaplains who provided ministry to Navy military, civilian personnel and their families. Our Director of Chaplain Services decided that we would have a retreat for the entire department.
So, a large charter board was reserved. I believe it was the Lady Of The Lake. We all climbed aboard this vessel at the Waukegan, Il harbor And went out on a several hour cruise on Lake Michigan.
This happened on a Friday in the middle of the day. There we were all of us, uniform less, no rank insignia to display. Just a bunch of guys in shorts and golf shirts enjoying the scent of the water and air.
I remember that several of us sat in the rear of the boat including our Director, who sat in his green shirt, tan shorts and his tanned bear feet on the deck of the ship. This was a scene of contentment, a moment of joy amidst all of the business of ministry to military service members.
I remember that I felt some guilt that day. Shouldn’t I be back at my office at Family Service Center waiting to see if a Friday afternoon emergency would come through the door ? Usually, one could predict that at least one emergency would occur always usually at 4:00 PM on Friday afternoon.
When did it become acceptable to feel guilty about taking time off for rest and retreat ?
Mark 4: 35–41 records how Jesus and his disciples left the multitudes on one side of the lake and they sailed over to the other side. During their journey, the wind and waves kicked up. The disciples, senior and seasoned fishermen got scared. They are alarmed and fearful and they beseech Jesus “ Aren’t you going to save us ? “
Jesus does hear them in their distress but instead he addresses the storm.
“ “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Mark 4: 39–40
As I write this, I am consciously aware of the storms which are all around us, a vicious hurricane out in the Gulf Of Mexico that threatens the Gulf Coast, the tremendous scourge of Covid-19 that has claimed over 178,000 deaths of American citizens.
The winds and the waves are blowing fierce now against our boat.
What do we do ?
Rev. Dr. Kirk Byron Jones, Minister of the Zion Baptist Church in Lynn, MA reminds us that retreat and rest needs to be a part of our daily ritual.
I. Allowing time for rejuvenation in the morning, to embrace ourselves, others, welcome the day and to welcome God, however known.
2. Develop “ peace pockets “ 10–15 minute breaks during the day to allow for replenishment of our souls, like filling up a well with water, pouring into our lives poetry or Ella Fitzgerald. “ Being the CEO of my own peace. “
3. Cultivating soul talk, something that waits for the true sign of yourself. Listening for the sound of the genuine, otherwise you are on the end of the strings being pulled by someone else. “
– Clergy in a Season of Pandemic w/ Rev. Dr. Kirk Byron Jones, Wednesday, August 26 @ 3:00 pm cst: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84437623669
Many of us right now maybe feeling like we are being pulled on the end of a string by someone else. A lot of us are working from home, with all of the blessings and curses entailed. Someone noted “ I’m working much harder than I would at the office. A certain amount of time is just devoted to resolving the technological glitches. The empire is getting more richer and powerful. The barrier between the personal and the professional is eroding further like a beach vanishing in high tide. “
Maybe we need that moment on the boat that is sailing across the lake. Maybe we need that moment of repose to see the Red Cardinal, notice the rose and hear and feel the wind around us.
Maybe we need to remember that God, who gives us life, is with us in all things, times and places.
May it be so.