Joy Dare Monday: Being on Retreat

My list this week is a wee bit epic. On retreat, I had more leisure to observe God's gifts.
One of the things I am learning is about being not just aware of God's presence but open to it. Perhaps that's the same thing.

While on retreat, I ended up spending time examining some of my negative emotions with the goal to let them go, a practice I had just learned via a Monk in the World podcast.
I didn't realize it until that evening, but God had other plans.
I am walking, processing negative emotions and I see seed pods fluttering in the breeze. I am utterly distracted.

I resume walking and thinking, but noting what's in flower and then in the midst of journaling some particular insight, someone says "look at the turtles!" 

Funny how it blurred, it looks like an impressionist painting... better pic later...
I finish writing (ha!) and look at the turtles and share that with a few others in the park. Admire someone's purple glasses.
Get back to the walk and the heavy thoughts... And I say hello to a woman sitting on her porch. (who on earth sits on their porch in SoCal any more? You may well ask who voluntarily says hello to strangers any more? 'Cause that'd be me.) She's weaving a basket and we converse.
Now I enjoy each moment described above, getting totally distracted from the serious work of "retreat".
But stubbornly going back to it... Well, at least until I realized how far I walked and I had quite the hike back. Uphill. Both ways. (ok not that last one.)  Then it was one foot in front of the other and wishing I'd brought along a bottle of water.

Even on retreat, I'm not great at listening to God....
The gospel reading for last Friday was from Mark 7. Jesus heals a deaf man with a speech impediment.
"He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”)." (Mark 7:34)
Be opened. Be aware of God's presence around you and in you. 
And do what I did not think to do: to just enjoy the whole walk with God beside me showing the delights, each of his wonderful creations, all of them and give thanks.

view from my room. I need to remember to bring a better camera than my iPhone
104. making room
105. my new passport arrived!
106. snuggling with hubby and pups on the couch.

107. sun's first chance to peek through clouds

108. pelicans flying, one skimming the ocean
109. discovering the potential gift of welcoming prayer (inner hospitality) 
110. catching the bus to Old Mission with such good timing as to see where the bus stop had been moved to!

111. jonquils hiding

112. getting blown about while waiting for retreat house to "open"
113. hardly anyone else here! have the place practically to myself!

114. heady scent of pink jasmine

115. chanting Compline
116. time to listen to birds and faint drone of traffic, to look up at the mountains with a hot cup  of (not particularly good) Earl Grey tea -- wishing I'd remembered my own stash!

117. seed pods bobbing
118. turtles lined up in the sun

119. a fallen gum nut that will never flower and nothing but God's will will make it so. (blogging on this soonish)
120. Let go. Trust God.
121. Bringing the right books with me on retreat. The last chapter of "Praying Our Goodbyes" (by Joyce Rupp) turns out to have the guidance I need after reflecting on some psalms and my life.
122. the Westminster chimes sounding throughout the house - reminding me of home.

123. sun rising over hill and filling air with warm yellow light.

124. two large grey squirrels bouncing off and around a tree and fence posts (playing? competing? mating?). In another tree, two small golden brown squirrels (chipmunks? but they have fluffy tails) move swift but demurely, cautiously.

125. clusters of bright yellow "daisies" on a succulent.

126. convent chapel open today
127. news we'd been hoping wouldn't come -- a friend's cancer has recurred. hard eucharisteo
128. prayer, candle lit, dedicated eucharist
129. the other retreat guest will give me a ride to the station tomorrow. No worrying about a taxi!
130. old Whittemore book with  beautiful truths ("Joy in Holiness")
131. fledgling woodpecker -- at least smaller than the other 2 woodpeckers it chattered with.
132. tired feet, tired eyes
133. mistaking Office for office in conversation with a monk (Divine/Daily Office)

134. sun-reflecting ocean, white surf

135. mare's tail clouds
136. dolphins!
137. train running late, giving me tim to write more blog posts. (it ended up being 2 hours late...)
138. patch of blue sky
139. garden patch planted

140. messing about with the shaker during worship
141. feeling like I'm back on an even keel -- did I get it out of my system? or was it the prayer while still in bed: "God, this day is yours. Thy will be done, not mine."? perhaps I shouldn't even been asking that question...but I'll keep praying that and get back you.

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

and with ...


  1. Loved this. The thought of fighting to stay on task when God is saying let go. The sunshine and flowers were welcome too as we have snow and freezing temps. The turtles are wonderful too!

  2. I loved this post and loved the pic's!

    "...being not just aware of God's presence but open to it. Perhaps that's the same thing."

    Being open makes us more aware...being aware makes us more open, I think.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Joe! It's a bit like the chicken and the egg, isn't it?

  3. yes, be open!! what a great reminder.

  4. Oh, my... What a breathtaking environment in which to retreat. I love this about retreating ... no cell phone. No computer. No agenda.

    Just. God.

    And time to engage more fully with the beauty of His creation.

    Thank you for linking, Leanne. It's a joy to experience a bit of your retreat with you, through your words and photos.

    1. Well, I had a cell phone. Used for keeping up with my Bible in a Year plan (I'm using the YouVersion bible app from, finding my way to and from the public park, and keeping in touch with my hubby, who alas had to work. And I had an agenda -- God just had different plans. Good thing I eventually listened!


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