my retreat

retreat: a (1) : an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable

As the end of summer approached I could feel it building- the tension of a life out of order, the unhappiness of a soul mired in the mundane. Looking back over the season’s emotionally taxing road, my brewing storm was not terribly difficult to forecast. A season book-ended with the grief of letting go, as two integral influences on the pages of my life, both my grandmothers, finished out their earthly days… A season of reflection, unanticipated challenge, and straight up chaos. And so birthed the tension.

With the start of fall, at a very real level, I knew enough was enough. I needed to make some changes. My family needed me to make some changes. And yet how does one pause for clarity and enlightenment when there are green beans stuck to the baseboards? Anyone? Dirty baseboards and laundry heaps aside, the proverbial line in the sand had been drawn. And just as the season states, things needed to fall away for a time. Many of them good, fulfilling, beautiful things in and of themselves, but together they had become one giant chain suffocating the happy right out of me.

Fast-forward to this past weekend when I had a rare opportunity to do literally what had been burning in me conceptually for months – I retreated. Along with a sweet, eclectic group of women- all working through the difficult middles of their own journeys- I spent two days listening, writing, praying, restoring…For two days I was able to hear myself think, and even more, I was able to hear God, all without those crusted green beans staring back at me. To attempt to recap the extent of my experience inside a 500 word essay would easily cheapen the very experience itself, but I will say the time away was a gift. One of clarity revealed and peace uncovered in hours that would have taken weeks to unearth at home amidst the frenzy of a family’s pace. Only after hearing the literal definition of the word “retreat”, I also now understand my retreat began weeks ago with the line in the sand…My own ‘process of withdrawing’ started long before I got in my car and headed to the woods seeking spiritual refuge. I now feel the freedom in knowing it doesn’t make me weak or less capable or crazy(er) for requiring time to step back…withdraw…retreat…

Almost immediately upon setting foot on the grounds of our retreat site last Friday evening, the lyrics to Nichole Nordeman’s song “Live” began looping in my mind, and the song stayed with me throughout the weekend. My feeling is it is a reminder, a musical memorial stone of sorts, recognizing the journey, where I was but not where I am. Where I’ve come from, but not where I’m headed. I’ve included the lyrics and found a YouTube link to the song below, and you can really should buy the whole album here.

All my love sweet friends,


Play “Live” Nichole Nordeman

Did you come that we might just survive?
Did you come so we could just get by?
Did you walk among us
So we might merely limp along beside?

I was bound, I have been set free
But I have settled for apathy
Did you come to make me new
And know I’d crawl right back into the skin you found me in?

It’s where I am, not where I’ve been

You make me want to live
You make me want to live
You came to shake us
And to wake us up to something more
Than we’d always settled for
And you make me want to live

We’ve all been up on the mountain top
A golden glow that’s bound to soon wear off
Then it’s back to the mundane telling tales of glory days
When we were hopeful that this change was here to stay

So why would a young man
Live in a waste land
When the castle of his dreams is standing by?
Why would a princess
Put on an old dress
To dance with her beloved and a chance to catch his eye?

*photos (left to right) 1,2,7 taken with iphone 3g, others taken with Nikon D300, all photos processed with ShakeitPhoto app for the iphone

November 11, 2010 - 10:12 am

April Poynter Sarah,
You are so “tremensly” talented and I’m so honored to have spent so much time with you this past weekend to really get to know you. I, too, discovered so much in the time that I had to hear myself think and hear the Holy Spirit speak to me.
Love you, girl… and keep writing!

November 11, 2010 - 10:37 am

Kimi I am catching up on you girl!
Crusted green beans, brown crunchy leaves, tutus and cleats and then to retreat!!! Awesome!
We have to retreat from ourselves! WE will lead ourselves down a horrid path of destruction, unless we can get away and crawl up into the bosom of the One who can make our paths straight, unravel the madness and give our souls rest and nourishment! Our time was fleeting, blips of moments but it culminated into something only God can do, substance! I so Thankful for the miracles God can do!

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