My summer, by end of July, had been less than relaxing. So, in search of peace and enlightenment I visited Pendle Hill for a day retreat. It was my first retreat ever. I had no idea whether I would be able to settle the swarm of fears circling in my mind, but I wanted to try.
The day was steamy, which contributed to my mucked-up mind. After a tour of the campus, I found a screened in porch and sat. I sat waiting in meditation for God and it was just lovely. The lush green colors of the leaves outside the porch surrounded and comforted me in my silence; I was truly at peace.
“Be still and know that I am God” – Psalm 46:10.
After hours of sitting in silence, I went in to the meeting space and took my time taking in the beauty and serenity of the room around me. I concentrated on the patterns in the quilt on the pew to help me get into a new meditative state. Several minutes later, I gravitated to the area where Pendle Hill displays their famous pamphlets. Consensus of the nearing end of my retreat, I quickly scanned the titles and my focus rested on a pamphlet titled ‘Dancing with God Through the Storm’.
Reading it, I felt a strong sense of connection to the author, Jennifer Elam, a Quaker and practicing psychologist. Her words felt like truths I had long held in my spirit but had never heard from another soul. Her essay was healing and I felt enlightened. I held her in the light with gratitude for her spiritual witness!
I needed direction and my God, this little time away from my everyday life had led me to this moment, to her essay. I was being guided!
How would I have come to this epiphany I was experiencing without Elam’s essay? As a Quaker I know the beauty and healing of being in silence, but I didn’t know that doing so for an entire day would help the swirling questions about some of my dilemmas virtually disappear.
It’s amazing how God, will reveal himself/herself to us if we just stop, be still and allow our spirit to connect with the Divine Spirit. God speaks to us in the most mysterious ways. For me that day, the Divine spoke through watching leaves dressed in their multi-shades of green; the pretty patterns in the quilt in the meeting house and especially through Jennifer Elam’s spiritual witness.
I am planning another day retreat soon and I encourage anyone who hasn’t been to Pendle Hill in awhile, or ever, to go. Go for a day, a personal retreat, sojourn or extended stay.
by Anissa New-Walker, RFM member