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A Working Retreat?

Oxymorons. You gotta love them. Verbally puzzling expressions that stop and make you think. Because they just don’t go together.

  • Great Depression
  • Jumbo shrimp
  • Act naturally
  • Deafening silence
  • Definitely maybe
  • Virtual reality
  • Random order

Today, I am headed 8 hours south into the mountains of North Carolina to a retreat center at Lake Junaluska.

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There may be more beautiful and restful places than this, but I don’t know them.

But, there are things that still need my attention. Things from home. Things from work. Things with a deadline. As I load up the car I ponder the oxymoron I am living: a working retreat. First bag in has my bottle of wine, 2 cups, and the old bread I have been saving to feed to the ducks on our arrival.

“Bread and wine?” my daughter says.

All I need.

Communion Running

Let no one say that running is not worship. I went for a Communion Run this morning. Yep, right there, as the roadside gravel crunched under my feet, I sang …

eat this bread, drink this wine,
trust in me and you will not thirst.

Works well if you have shortish strides and no place really to go.

And wouldn’t you know He even tossed in a bit of baptismal rain that threatened a downpour and spurred me to move spritely up the hill and quickly home?

Perhaps this is just an Easter event. Being that it’s Easter and I just attended the sunrise service.

I remember the sunrise last Easter. It actually rose during the service, as it’s meant to. We bowed our heads for prayer and when we looked up the sun peeked back at us. Not this morning. This morning was cool, cloud-covered and dry. The only hint of sunrise were a few wisps of pink off in the eastern sky. I willed them to be more, but they didn’t comply.

Oddly, as the service ended with the final hymn printed in our bulletin, I didn’t have trouble reading the words as I had for the opening hymn. Now, by the light of the sun I couldn’t see, I could see to read the words more clearly.

Somehow, instead of disappointing, I find this both miraculous and just as it should be. I know the risen Lord by way of His facilitation of my sight, my sound, my taste and touch and smell.

And why not on the road as I plod along in my Saucony’s? The rain doesn’t bother me at all. In fact I revel in it. Cleansing. Renewing. Changing rain. I’ve a hat and a jacket and two legs that will carry me forward.

And the mind it does whir. That’s creativity calling. It comes unbidden – in fact it almost never comes when I call it – and I stop to put down my water bottle in order to extract the sticky notes and pen that are nestled in my front jacket pouch. I just hope I can read what I’ve written by the time I get home. I hope it makes any sense. Because creativity has its own language. What seems to make sense at the moment of illumination is foreign even some minutes later.

Alas, I am a bit odd about this I know. But it is my bread and it is my wine. And today I am not thirsty. And neither will I be tomorrow. With thanks to John Indermark I know what’s happened. I have been Eastered. He writes…

“Holy Jesus, risen Christ, having shaken off the tomb and death: write your raising in the handwriting of my life. Grace me to live an Eastered life for the sake of the world you love. Amen.”

He is not here. He is risen.

His Blood On My Hands

We have small, intimate Communion service on Wednesdays at my church. Something about taking time in the middle of my week to stop and remember the Why and the Whom behind what I do and who I am. I love taking communion. It’s so…bodily.

I found out today why we are really supposed to cup our hands to take Communion. It’s humble, yes. But the real reason is to do what my mother always did when she fed me something that might drip on her good rug, it’s so that when you dip your bread in the cup there is a hand underneath to catch the drip before it hits the carpet.

And then…you kneel at the rail. And you have the blood of your Savior on your hands.

What a tangible sense I had today of the guilt of my soul. “Your blood, Lord, is on my hands.” I cannot deny it. It was damp and sticky.

But it made my washroom experience truly a magnificent moment. “Child, I have washed away your sin. Go and sin no more.”

I am so grateful there is a Communion service every week.

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