On May 5 to 7, Mennonite spiritual directors from the Great Lakes region gathered for a retreat at Lindenwood Retreat Center, near Plymouth, Indiana. Our theme was Tending the Fire -- and we had time to tend the fire that God has kindled in each of us through worship times, story sharing, experiential workshops on spiritual practices, conversations of many sorts, and sabbath time. The Emmaus road story, Luke 24:13 - 36, wove its way through our worship gatherings: Were not our hearts burning within us while he was taking to us on the road?
The room for most of our large gatherings looked out over the lake and the beginnings of spring -- flowering trees, tulips, baby geese. Our visuals required some creativity. We had chosen the theme of Tending the Fire before we knew that Lindenwood has a policy of no open flames, for insurance reasons. So we improvised with fiery colors, salt lamps, paintings, figures, and flowers, changing with each worship time.
The visual center below has a story of its own. Jane Halteman brought a number of things to be used for the visuals. At the last minute she threw in this red and blue cloth, one that she had purchased from the Congo Cloth Connection at Mennonite General Assembly last summer. She choose it for the colors, not aware that the pattern was of candle flames until she opened it at the retreat. It immediately struck us as just what was needed for our main gathering space, along with a contemporary icon of the Emmaus encounter and some light from a Ten Thousand Villages salt lamp.
If you count the candles on the cloth, you'll find 30 whole flames and 3 partial ones (allowing for a bit of imaginative stretch in the case of that right uppermost flame). There were 33 registrants at the retreat, with several who were not able to be there the whole time. A lovely synchronicity (even if the numbers don't quite match -- there should be four partial flames!).
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.