Friday, July 6, 2012

Labyrinth Retreat – #1 - Church Retreat Bloopers

I attended a women’s overnight church retreat the first weekend of May. The topic was walking the labyrinth as movement meditation. It was held at a church retreat named Marywood, situated on the river in the next county. It was the first time I had been away from my primary caretaker, Al, since I started chemotherapy over two years ago. I stepped out in faith that I would not be sick and God told me not to worry, that I would be fine. This church retreat had a full size labyrinth on its grounds. I have written about my little hand-held labyrinth, but this one was big enough to walk. It was a modified version of the medieval one at Chartres Cathedral in France.
During check-in on the first day, a delivery truck ran over the propane gas tank and it spewed gas into the atmosphere!Now twelve of the eighteen participants had checked in, and the other six were at the gate. At the scene of the accident there were three fire engines, one ambulance and a police car. How exciting! They were not letting any cars come in. The receptionist from the main building told all of us to stay in the conference room. We were forbidden to go outside! I’m so glad God told me I would be fine before I came!
The schedule of the retreat said we would have snacks from 4:00 till 6:00 pm. But the six ladies who couldn’t get in had all the snack foods! All we had to eat was a bag of pita chips and a container of hummus. That didn’t last long but God made it stretch for me. I am used to eating six small meals per day and I was getting hungry! It was now past suppertime. The cook came over and told us that the firemen would not let him into the kitchen, so he was going to have to order out for our dinner. At this time the receptionist came in with a big bag of snack food that she had obtained from the lady who was stranded at the gate. Yea, God!Something to eat now and dinner is on its way!
Meanwhile, back at the accident site, two big flames were coming out of two big pipes. The firemen were wearing Hazmat suits and said it would take about 3 hours to burn off the gas. We had chosen this location for our retreat because of the life-size labyrinth and now we can’t get to it! Our leader had planned a candlelight walk on it, but we would have blown ourselves up! Along with the whole camp! Three hours passed and it was still burning. The firemen changed their original estimate to 4-5 hours. We ladies are making funny remarks about the situation. “Oh, look! Tongues of fire! We are being baptized with the Holy Spirit!” “It’s a trial by fire. We, like gold, are being refined today!” “The day of Pentecost is upon us!”Our retreat leader improvised some exercises and teaching about movement meditation that we could do indoors. We all had to be flexible.
The next unforeseen event occurred when I knocked a gallon of tea off of the top of the refrigerator. It hit the floor –splat - and broke open immediately like a watermelon being dropped from the top of a building! All I could think of was, “Leslie, the lady in charge of Marywood, just left, and we have no way to get extra towels!” Luckily two quick-thinking ladies came running with paper towels. We started soaking up the tea. So now we are all joking about first the fire and now we are experiencing the flood and Noah’s ark! The way we were confined to the conference room, we may as well have been in an ark surrounded by water – instead of a conference room surrounded by volatile gas! BUT, we remained flexible and improvised.
The firemen then said the gas would burn off overnight but when we woke up the next morning, it was still burning! It burned until 2:00pm the next day when we were leaving! The cook never could get in the kitchen and had to order out for breakfast and lunch. However, the firemen did let us go out to walk the labyrinth that morning. The grounds were roped off like a crime scene BUT, we were flexible and improvised and God blessed our retreat. I remembered God’s promise. He said I would be fine;there is nothing to fear.
Meanwhile, at breakfast two of the ladies reported some action. A man with a master key had started to come in their room during the night! They were still awake and they said “Who is it?” and he left immediately.It was probably one of the firemen trying to find an empty room with a bathroom.This weekend could have been a pilot program for a new reality show called “Church Retreat Bloopers!”

Since we could not walk the labyrinth at night on the retreat, I am showing nighttime pictures of the solar lights in my garden. There is a picture of a humming bird, a butterfly, a dragonfly; and another picture of a flower. These lights constantly change color. The picture with the blue aquarium rocks and aquatic animals is my “no-maintenance artificial pond” and it has twinkling butterflies and dragonflies. I have stocked it with frogs, seashells, fish and an alligator named Albert.

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