I have been meeting 2 monastic minded friends at Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina on a regular basis since 2004. We began our monastic exploration as we fell in love with Kathleen Norris. One friend had already been going out to Mepkin Abbey just to spend an afternoon, and she suggested we go there for a retreat.
Back then, the Abbey rarely had formal retreats that explored topics. But in the past year or 2, with the new retreat center, the emphasis has shifted. Now it's harder to find a week-end where one could do an unstructured retreat with friends.
Yesterday, one of those friends wrote to ask if we'd gotten the newsletter and considered the retreat in June that will explore the power of story. I'd been looking for week-ends with nothing scheduled, but her e-mail made me think again.
Long story short, during the course of an afternoon, we decided to do it. I checked with my boss who said I could take those days off. I can't take it as professional development, but I don't care. And by then, I'll need something to help with renewal.
I haven't been to Mepkin Abbey in the summer. I'm intrigued by how the monastery moves through the calendar year and the liturgical year, so I'm excited to try a new season.
I had been feeling a bit of despair without realizing it. I can't go to the Create in Me retreat this year. It will be the week-end before the accreditors arrive, so there's just no way. I had been worried, without even realizing it, that I might never make it back to Mepkin Abbey, with so many week-ends unavailable. I've been worried--but realizing it--that my new job will make it harder to get away, harder to see friends, harder to have a work-life balance.
I do think I will have to be aware, as we all need to be, and to remain on the look-out for ways to get these kinds of opportunities into my life. I am happy to have a reunion with my monastic minded friends. I am happy to return to Mepkin Abbey. I am happy for a chance to experience a retreat that explores a topic dear to my heart (narrative! story! intersections with spirituality!)--and it's led by a father-son team; I'm always interested in how my mom and I might lead retreats.
But mostly, I am happy that my monastic minded friend offered an invitation, and I worked my way to saying yes more quickly than I usually do. My Epiphany star leads the way:
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