This week we polled our members to determine interest in getting together for our first retreat, and now we have results: enough interest to move forward, experts to guide us in planning our program, a wonderful location in scenic Brown County, Indiana and tentative dates, Thursday through Sunday, August 20-23, 2015.
We even have a pledge for some scholarship money, because we want our retreat to be affordable.
The idea grew out of discussions we had with our Daily Office missioner, Dr. Maria L. Evans, a seminarian in the Diocese of Missouri. After 10 years and almost 3,000,000 hits, we’re happy to claim some 5000 faithful, fascinating people as our own in Christ. We want to meet them in person! This will be our first chance, in what we hope will become an annual event.
It will be held at Waycross, the camp and conference center of the Diocese of Indianapolis, located about halfway between Indy and Louisville, Kentucky.
Brown County, Indiana is one of the top travel destinations in the Midwest, thanks to its beautiful landscape, which in the early 20th century attracted the Impressionist painter T.C. Steele, who built a cabin and painted many scenes. Other artists followed and an Indiana School of painting developed, known as the Hoosier Group.
Brown County is still rustic and rural; slow down around the hairpin curves, because you may find yourself hard upon a Mennonite buggy. Nashville, the county seat, is the only organized town, with a population of 900. There are 19 art galleries and studios; bluegrass legend Bill Monroe’s annual Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival runs for 8 days in June and is located just a few miles away, not far from St. David’s Episcopal Church.
Midwest Living magazine offers this 60-second video tour:
While Waycross and Brown County are attractions in themselves, the real reason for attending is the chance to meet other people with a deep commitment to God in prayer. Though I hesitate to call them “good Christians,” because we’re all sinners and at best are only doing what Christians ought to do, I believe very strongly that the daily habit of prayer makes a big difference in our lives. These are people who know, better than I do, that when we pray the Daily Office, twice a day for 30 days, we’re bound to get closer to God – not because of any merit of our own, but because God is generous in allowing us to get to know him. The Holy Spirit uses the time we give to bring us closer to herself; and the more we know her, the more we trust her and are able to follow where she leads.
What we want to accomplish on our retreat is to develop our prayer lives beyond our current practices. Thus we want to offer instruction and practice using other methods besides the Daily Office, including meditation, centering prayer and the work of our hands. Though we’ll have some spiritual experts to guide us, the main teachers we’ll find are each other. That is what we’ve found this past year with our core group of webcasters – but it surely is equally true of the 5000 other people who follow our sites. We’re not holier than anyone else, but having taken on this discipline and applied it daily, we maybe find it a little easier to conform our lives to God’s will.
Constant prayer reduces our resistance to God. We mortals always resist, we can’t help it; partly out of selfishness and ignorance, but also out of fear. What happens to those who have a spiritual discipline is that God greatly reduces our fear.
For instance, I used to be afraid that giving myself wholly to God would mean that “I” would cease to exist as a separate being. I was afraid that God was like a spiritual vampire waiting to consume me. But it isn’t so; God is the opposite of a zombie, and I’ve become more like myself, not less.
Now multiply my paltry insight times 25 people and you might have a weekend worth coming to!
It’s six months away, but already I’m getting excited. We’re going to Waycross. We’re going to meet each other!++