Back when I was a "real missionary," I used to set aside fairly regular days--or half-days at least--in which to really try to communicate with God. I don't do that anymore, even though I will still vehemently assert that such retreat days are vital for anyone trying to maintain a relationship with the Divine. The fact that I am, apparently, a hypocrite about such things, is probably why I don't retreat very much; because then I'd have to take stock of myself or something.
This, I guess, may also be why God has to orchestrate retreats with me Himself at the moment. I sort of had one by mistake this weekend. It wasn't maybe what anybody would think of when they think of retreats. But the cumulative effect was pretty similar, so I think it was one anyway.
I had the weekend off. By which I mean, the whole weekend. I didn't have to work at Starbucks on Saturday. I didn't have to play the flute in church on Sunday. There has been no weekend in recent memory like this one. So I went to visit Dear Friend Paulina, whom I hadn't seen in over a year. She lives two hours from here, unless there's traffic, which there was pretty badly for about an extra hour of driving time on my way to her place. That was a little annoying, since it was very hot and humid, but I listened to a Tim Keller sermons on my little plug-in CD player. (I am, after all, so very, very hi-tech.) My family is into Tim Keller sermons. Dad and David put some onto CDs for me, but I had forgotten I had them until this weekend.
When I got to Paulina's, she cooked made brunch and we ate it in a leisurely fashion and we talked about our lives. Talking-about-our-lives took a while, since kind of a lot has happened to both of us in the last year. "We need to make sure we take some time this weekend to pray together for each other," she said. I concurred, because of course this is a Very Good Idea, probably akin to making lilies, although I confess I did feel my stomach drop a bit at the thought of praying aloud.
After brunch we went into town and Paulina gave me a walking tour, and we got coffee and cheesecake from places having nothing to do with Starbucks, but at the end of it I had the beginnings of a migraine, so I had to lie down for a bit. It was kind of a drag, but it did give me some time to be quiet and rest and do nothing.
The next day we went to church and talked some more and ate some more and drank more coffee (well, I did), and then we prayed together. On the way home, I listened to more Tim Keller sermons. When I got home, I saw another sermon of sorts on TV. By the time I went to bed I was feeling joyful and sombre and like Someone was trying to communicate Something, and that if I spent a little more time being quiet and paying attention, I might just find out what the Something was.
I merely say all this to provide a framework for some other stuff I want to talk about later. But also to say that apparently, even when you're with people, you can "get away" and hear from God, even if you have to wait a few installments to figure out quite what you're hearing.
Photo by jennw2ns, 2005: Walkway.