This past weekend I had the privilege of being the keynote leader for the Southeast Gateway Area Fall Women’s Retreat. Those present were Disciples of Christ laywomen and clergy plus one Presbyterian clergywoman who just asked her Disciples friends if she could come along. It was a wonderful group. I was reminded once again of the incredible faith, depth of spirit, and creativity of women who open themselves to God’s Spirit and to each other. Barb, who was a part of the planning group for the retreat, shared a precious gifts with each woman there. Barb had received a box of the beautiful handkerchiefs that had belong to her mother-in-law Margery. She said that Margery always had a handkerchief with her. They were delicate, of many colors, flowers, designs. Some scalloped around the edges; perhaps a bit of lace. Barb chose for every woman at the retreat to receive one of these handkerchiefs. I was touched by the generosity of heart to share these reminders of Margery with all these women. We used the handkerchiefs in prayer, to express joy and thanks. I can only imagine that now these hankies will again wipe a brow, dry a tear, catch a sniffle, provide security in a moment of concern.
The planning group set up Meditation stations around the retreat center grounds. Each station welcomed retreatants to rest and be reminded of God’s nourishing presence. Objects of remembrance were available at each station.
The planning group’s work set such a perfect setting for our theme, focusing on the Hospitality of the Table of Christ. I was particularly moved by their hospitality, their dream that every woman who attended, would be welcomed with grace.
Using the resource, Radical Hospitality: Benedict’s Way of Love by Fr. Daniel Homan and Lonni Collins Pratt, I focused the keynote sessions on the Hospitality of Jesus. Session 1: Welcoming the Other, Welcoming Us Session 2: Vulnerability and Hospitality and Session 3: At the Table: Recognizing Christ, Recognizing Ourselves.
I was touched by the willingness of these women to share their lives and their faith.