Retreat and Recharge

   Five semesters are now complete at the School for Deacons in Berkeley, CA. Looking back it seems impossible and incredible that I managed to get all the work done! Some might take pride in this accomplishment, but I recognize that while I worked hard while enjoying every course, there have been numerous seemingly insurmountable problems and obstacles along the way that were only overcome with the help of God who walks with each of us in this journey of faith.
This past weekend was spent at the Bishop's Ranch in Healdsburg, CA attending the annual School for Deacon's Retreat, which is required of all students. Many graduates also attend since this is an opportunity to step back from work, ministry, and School to refresh your spirit, recharge your batteries, and be with people who share this call to become a servant of God's people.
   For me this Retreat was sorely needed, like a cool drink of water after a long walk in the desert. The feeling one gets as you let go of the outside world and focus on your relationship with God and your neighbors is incredibly refreshing. 
   There are times early on in this process when you doubt you're following the right path. It was comforting for me to find that this time of Withdrawal/Retreat reaffirmed that I've been following the right path. 
   Headline news can make people feel overwhelmed with hopelessness and helplessness, and that includes me! There is so much broken in the world--wherever will we start? Can my insignificant efforts in the face of such troubling times really make a difference?
   In my meditations and prayers this weekend I realized that God, too, our Creator who dances with joy over her creatures and creation, weeps with us in witnessing the carelessness too many people walk through life with. God weeps not just with us, but for those who are too blind to see the brokenness around them, and the brokenness within them.
   In the depths of our fears, however, God is embracing each one of us, wrapping her comforting arms around us and sharing in our grief. Somehow when you grasp that all-embracing Creator caring for each one of us you realize that you do have the strength to stand up and make a difference.
   None of us can change this broken world, but we can change the broken world around us--the world within our grasp--the neighbors we see each day.
   Amidst the Christmas cards I received this season there was one that stood out for me.

"When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release prisoners,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart."
---Howard Thurmond

May you find your path in the coming year!

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