Regal thistles, often solitary, sometimes in small clusters, their purple heads so tall they are practically staring me in the face. They compel me to stop to take in their beauty on a walk through rolling ridges and hills of this neighborhood surrounded by sea-glass green prairie grass--seas, seas, OCEANS of it, bordered by brooding pines (spruces?).
Recalling Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Little House on the Prairie, and desires to have seen this state before all the development. What must these seas have looked like?
A flash of blue--some bird flies by, drawing the eye to a horse galloping in the pastures of Snow Drift Ranch. Two more follow his lead (his stance watching me at rest was clearly macho; their hesitant following more feminine, tentative--"Won't someone get hurt?!").
An architectural vernacular so different from New England that it makes that region seem like a little French village, with its narrow, twisting streets. The mellow Georgia pines are distant cousins to the wild mustangs of pines in the grove outside my window. I understand the
need to paint them, and solidarity with all the artists who try to capture the Colorado aspens and pines.
butterflies and insects all different--I want names. I haven't felt this since walks in Shenandoah National Park many moons ago. I don't want my camera; I want my sketchpad and watercolors, and can't stop writing.
I am here for a week debrief with my parent organization, Greater Europe Mission. After five years of ministry, I am 'invited' to return, touch base with the home office, and debrief. But more than a business-like series of back-to-back meetings, this has recently been re-titled Home Ministry Renewal and has been so much more than a debrief. I suppose it is partially what you make of it, but for me, it is truly that, and is fast becoming a true retreat.
Spoiled rotten by GEM's member care peeps, in a luxury B&B appropriately named The Hideaway, all expenses paid, one can do nothing but read, reflect, walk...and eat...
Meals are non-stop and custom designed not only to your diet of choice, but your snacks and beverages of choice. So, Italian espresso is on tap, and the staff is searching for San Pellegrino water. A bottle of hot sauce is quickly delivered upon request. One Gala apple is also ordered up, and delivered.
Way too many M&M's have been consumed (I swear I didn't request them!), with as many blackberries, strawberries, cherries and grapes as my intestines can handle. There was a wine-tasting opening reception. Spa music plays in the background, and this morning's chill was quickly dispatched with a fire in the dining room. Need an extra jacket? "We'll get you one."
Yes, just enough session and debrief time to uncork our hearts and heads, get in our face about what's really going on in our spiritual and emotional lives, as well as our ministries, and then it's back to walking it all out, or nap time, or the M&M's, or the deep conversation, or the hot tub. Or all of the above. Because we're an unusually small group, the sessions are ending earlier, giving us enough time to process, relax, and connect with colleagues we may not have seen in years. Sharing the uniqueness-es of our very distinctive lives.
Or write a blog post :)
Let me not fail to mention: meeting God. Getting some re-direction, or confirmation, or validation. Getting insight and wisdom, or at least a listening sympathetic ear. Discerning next steps together, praying together, brainstorming together. Passing the tissues. Discovering sometimes that God just spoke through that offhand comment at dinner.
May I say how delighted I was that today's session on Transitions included ample watching of Lord of the Rings videos?!
I am loving this week, and all that it is doing in my life. Rarely does one get such treatment. I'm grateful for our facilitators who are skilfully guiding us through living one of the most impossible, amazing lifestyles there is, and not giving up. Hallowed be their names.