Our speaker this year was Heather Ashe, a former member of our church who recently relocated to Pittsburgh. She spoke about service and the gospel, and it was so refreshing. The gospel never ever gets old. I find that I forget it all the time, so when someone tells it to me, I am again amazed by it! It's like that old hymn that says, "I love to tell the story; 'twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love."
I was privileged to get to know some women I had never even met in my small group, I loved hearing from women older than I, I loved laughing and being silly and making crafts and eating junk food from the snack table and communing with my sisters.
However...however...I have to say that my favorite time at the retreat was Saturday afternoon. After I had spent some time talking and creating (cute little fabric flower pins), I decided to take a walk outside. The sun shone warmly, though snow piles still hid in the shadows.
I took a familiar path, one I discovered at last year's retreat, and found myself in an empty meadow. The grass still lay flat, yellow and smashed from months under a blanket of snow. Instead of being tickly, the grass made a cushiony bed, so I lay right down on the ground. The lumps and bumps of the earth beneath made a pillow and so I lay and contentedly read my book.
After about ten minutes, the warmth of the sun and the wonder of the silence overtook me. I curled up in the soft yellow grass. I TOOK MY SHOES OFF (if you live in New England, you can understand how amazing this was). If I had been a bird, I would have tucked my head under my wing. I basked in the sound of NO ONE TALKING. I listened for every sound I could detect: distant cars, the breeze in the bare branches, an intermittent bird call. When I opened my eyes, I took in all that surrounded me: still-stark branches against a bright blue, wisps of high clouds, vapor trails criss-crossing, a bird far above, soaring and riding the invisible air highways, undulating golden earth beneath me. I thanked God for that time, that hour, and I slept there, alone in the open space.
When the shadows began to grow longer and the breeze began to chill, I brushed the grass from my sweater and made my way back to join the group. I fairly skipped down the wooded trail, so refreshed and glad I felt, like a child who had just dozed in her Father's lap.