By Pauline Samuel
A month ago, Servant Year had its first of four retreats. The entire community traveled to Maryland. I was not sure quite what to expect, but I was definitely excited. The drive there was great as everyone in the car I was traveling in spent time conversing and getting to know one another a bit better. We discussed our placement sites and personal backgrounds. We were all even more excited to make a quick pit stop at Dunkin Donuts for some much needed coffee and snack!
I was impressed when we pulled up to our campsite. The grounds were expansive and the lodging was modern, cozy, warm and inviting. I knew I was in for a great weekend! To say I felt at peace is an understatement. My experience of retreats has usually been that of working retreats in particular, vestry retreats. While I enjoyed the vestry retreats that I went on, I always felt they were more business with not enough time for personal space, spiritual formation and quiet reflection. Our first Servant Year retreat did not lack in any of these areas.
One of the first spaces I encountered was the chapel. When I first entered the chapel, I was in awe of the beauty of the altar which consisted of a large cross, numerous candles, small stones, a vase of water and simple fabric. It was simple and strikingly beautiful. I immediately felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. My favorite place to be that weekend was the chapel. Not only did I feel God’s presence in that beautiful space, I saw the light of God in each person that was in the room.
Being a person who is organized and likes to know what is going to happen next, (probably from my time as serving as Clerk of the Vestry), I liked that none of us knew what was on the agenda for the weekend. We had to go with the flow and be surprised. I also liked that we were not confined to any particular space or area for any session. It was an amazing experience to say Morning Prayer outside in nature and be a part of God’s creation offering up our thanks and praise. I felt humbled and privileged to be able to stand with my fellow Servant Year brothers and sisters and leaders in prayer and serenity experiencing God’s grace in such an amazing way.
I had so many great moments on this first retreat. I enjoyed the camaraderie, the laughter, the games (I learned Trivial Pursuit is not my forte) the prayers, the discussions, learning some of my strengths and how to enhance them. And oh yes, the food!!! The food was absolutely amazing! Every meal was delectable and the best part…I had my first s’more!!! It was divine! I also did not realize how entertaining Boppit can be and I am sure it will resurface at the next retreat.
All in all, a welcomed three days away from the busyness of my day to day routine. Three days of connecting, communing, and awareness; awareness of God, of self and of neighbor. I welcome retreat number two!
Pauline's placement is with Saint Mark's Church as a Ministry Resident.