by Christine Sine
Have you noticed that the rhythm of our days and of our seasons doesn’t always flow in the way we expect it to? It’s a little like trying to create a topiary in a garden without any knowledge of how to do it. I intended to spend the summer working on getting my podcast up and running. I thought I had someone lined up to help and I expected to launch it in September. Every door I tried to open seemed to close. Now, as summer draws to a close I look back and say – that was not the rhythm God intended for my summer. It was meant to be a season for reconnecting to friends and companions and for deepening my connection to the garden and God’s amazing world. It was meant to be a season to breathe in a new aspect of God’s eternal breath, allow it to penetrate the negative thoughts that had taken root in my mind over the last couple of challenging years and encourage it to grow down deep into the quiet centre of my being. Wow, how easily I could have missed that!
As I mentioned last week: “I am increasingly aware that the rhythm God calls us to may not revolve around the liturgical calendar or the seasons of the year but is instead a call to draw our lives into that rhythm of Eternal breath, a rhythm that Jesus obviously maintained in his life.” This sounds very vague, mystical, intangible, but for me is also very liberating and in many ways a perspective that needs a whole realignment of our thinking. In the past, I tended to think of the seasons of life as something “out there” I need to grab hold of. Now I realize they are something buried deep within that I need to give breathing space to. I reach deep down into the centre of my being, going deep into the mystery, the wonder, the beauty and the love of God. I relax, breathe deeply of the fragrance of God, allow my Creator’s presence to penetrate the hidden recesses of my soul, lodge there and shine the bright light of God’s presence on me. The rhythms and the seasons of our lives are rooted in our lived experiences and our search for meaning but they will not unfold themselves fully unless we take time to stand back and become aware of who we are and how God wants to guide us. That is why I frequently harp on our need for retreats.
This week I am reading Margaret Silf’s Sacred Spaces – Stations on a Celtic Way. It is another great preparation for this upcoming series of retreats and a wonderful reinforcement of what God is teaching me. She sees the exploration of seasons and sacred spaces as intertwined and woven into the thread of our own stories. For her, seasons are not static, set in concrete like the liturgical or meteorological seasons, they are patterns and stages of growth woven in and out of our lives. However they are not always consistent. They weave their own patterns, sometimes leaping forward, sometimes winding back upon themes and re-emerging in a new way. Margaret Self likens this to a Celtic knot. It is also a little like walking a labyrinth.
This understanding is revolutionizing my life and my preparation for the upcoming Rhythms and Seasons retreat on Saturday. I think it can revolutionize yours too. Don’t forget, this is the first of three retreats in this series. Each is a stand alone retreat but you can join us for all three at a considerably discounted price:
Rhythms and Seasons on September 2nd, yes that’s this Saturday!) will begin with a breath prayer practice, that will guide us into a discussion of the rhythm of eternal breath. We will explore different approaches to rhythms and seasons and how these are meant to be woven into our lives. We will also examine the rhythms that Jesus lived by. In spite of the pressures on his life he rarely seemed hurried and appears to have had a good work/rest balance.
Through discussion, reflection and fun creative activities we will assist you to rediscover God’s sustainable rhythms that provide balance between work and rest, effort and waiting, doing and not doing. Using the seasons of the year and the liturgical pattern of life they gave birth to we will explore how to reconnect our lives to God’s patterns and the practices that should undergird them.
In A Season of Gratitude on October 14th, we will explore one of the most important rhythms we should incorporate in our lives – gratitude and thanksgiving. Gratitude should be a part of our life every day, yet we all suffer from a gratitude gap. We should take time to intentionally give thanks. What could we transform from unpleasant to enjoyable by a change in attitude? How do we approach the world with gratitude and delight at all times? How do we find joy in the midst of the most challenging situations? These are some of the questions we grapple with as we look ahead to the changing seasons. What about you?
In our final retreat for the year An Advent Quiet Day on December 9th, we will take time to pause in the busy days before Christmas to breathe deeply of the love and joy of God. Through reflection on scripture, creative practices and discussion we will enter into a place of rest and renewal that is so important at the end of the year.
Come join us for one or all of these important retreats. They form a powerful series of exploration and reflection for the coming months. And don’t forget, we offer a very special discount for those that attend all three.
Christine Sine is offering three seasonal, virtual retreats to explore living in balance and in line with the natural and liturgical rhythms of the year. Join her for one or all of them September 2, October 14 and December 9. These retreats will encourage us to center ourselves and our lives as we move through the seasons beginning in Fall and moving through Advent. They will be times of reflection, creativity and fun.