Done retreating… now what?

I’m back from a refreshing weekend at Shepherd’s Spring Retreat Center outside Sharpsburg, Maryland. It was sponsored by the Alliance of Baptists, a faith community of caring, celebrating, diverse and welcoming Baptists.

I made the decision to go on this retreat because I believed in my heart of hearts I would have a lot in common with them. I drove into the retreat center knowing No One At All. I drove away with new sisters, brothers, mentors and friends. My heart is full. God is truly good.

I’m still thinking about the weekend…  Processing and understanding what I learned about myself. What I want to do about it. What I DON’T want to do. Where I still have such a long way to grow. But enough about that…

Through my camera lens, there was a lot to celebrate, love and appreciate in the scenery around us. Enjoy these glimpses of the Love and Creative God around us…

There were hikes near a frozen C&O Canal with the Potomac full of snow melt and rain…

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C&O Canal near Taylor’s Landing

We hiked into the valley to see the Spring itself… lovely in the cold and snow.

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THE spring at Shepherd’s Spring retreat center

We walked in snow and ice through woods punctuated by hoof prints and bird tracks.

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We visited Antietam Battlefield, a sober reminder of the staggering loss of human life because of war.

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The “Bloody Lane” of Antietam Battlefield.

We visited the “Dunkard Church” – a peace-loving church on the edge of the bloodiest battlefield in American history.2014-02-23 DunkardChurch1

I could not help but wonder, what silent testimony of peace do these empty benches tell us, if we would but listen?2014-02-23 DunkardChurch2

Ending Saturday night’s time together by gathering for worship and Communion. Food for the heart.

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My gift to the group was an offering of a song that reminds me, wherever I go, God has sent me to make a difference. Whatever it is that I try to do, God causes the growth.

And many years from now, long after we are gone, these trees will spread their branches out and bless the dawn…

Thanks be, THANKS BE!

Fragile Beauty

Our world was iced over this morning. The patio and steps (made of slate) were slippery and very difficult to walk on safely. But as the temperature rose, the ice layers melted. I stepped out to take some pictures and reflect.

So much of what we think of as “beauty” is such a fleeting thing: the roses in my garden, the leaves in their brilliant glory in autumn, the fluffy, giant snowflakes of an East coast winter storm… they all quickly end.

So I celebrate the glories of even an ice storm, of rain transformed by air temperatures above and below, and the whims of weather.

Enjoy…

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Our patio this morning was glazed with ice!
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Branches on the maple tree
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Looking back towards the labyrinth.
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Just as it was starting to melt…
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Beautiful!
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Everything is coated with a frosting of ice.
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The holly tree
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Pieces of ice falling from the branches. It was like a hailstorm of ice tubes!
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The ground is covered with melting ice falling off the branches.
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The ground is littered with branches from the white pines, too. And more ice.

Photo Party – Abbey of the Arts

Christine invited participants to respond to this Photo Party Theme: Listen with the Ear of Your Heart

ears listen, eyes look,
hearing, seeing below ground
to the sacred source

I have five photos I am sharing today… each spoke to me when I shot them as having that “thin” place between heaven and earth where God spoke crystal clear. I hope they speak to you as well…

Archway in the ruins in Sanxay, France

When is it time to step through an opportunity?
When the timing is clearly God’s, not your machination.
We can only look forward.
We can’t look backward. All we will see then
is ruins…

A yellow swallowtail

This required sitting still. Making the “invitation” and watching,
waiting. And then celebrating…
The tiny feet were like fuzzy nails on my fingertip.
And its minuscule hand-painted beauty more lovely
than any stained glass window.

God put the sun to bed

We watched the sun set this one evening with amazement
as the cloud formations on the horizon slowly “put out
the light.” Darkness came quickly.
Yet we knew, in the morning, it would be bright again.

The endless song of the waves…

Some things are best experienced with
a friend at your side… like the pull
of the eternal.

Two crab holes, some driftwood… God smiled.

I often think of this as a visible parable
of humanity’s worth…
“do you not know that you are
more valuable that ghost crabs
who skitter by day and feed by night?
if I know the ways and the paths of a ghost crab,
don’t I also care for you?

I’m watching for more “thin places.” …how about you?