Our hearts in prayer

Twenty-eight women attended the St. John’s Women’s Retreat in April at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center, on the shores of Smith Mountain Lake. Martha Bourlakas led a Saturday program. Dawn Murray reflects on the weekend.

Like many of my fellow women’s retreat-goers, I was nervous about the weekend. I didn’t know what to expect. What I’d find. How I’d fit.

I did my best to arrive without expectations, open to the possibilities. Open, definitely, to the wine, which flowed freely all weekend. To chatting with strangers-becoming-friends about life and kids and hobbies. To eating meals without preparing them first nor washing dishes afterwards. To getting my first tattoo (temporary, y’all!). To praying. To reflecting upon the incredible abundance in my life. To sitting – just sitting – all the evening and into the night on a peninsula just big enough for our group, surrounded by water, talking, laughing, and experiencing, for the first time in recent memory, an abundance of time.

Closed, though, to the 7 a.m. run. Very, very closed.

Sunday morning, we returned to the waterside to share the Eucharist. The Gospel reading told the story of the resurrected Jesus appearing to his disciples, who don’t recognize him. Jesus breaks bread with them, and their eyes are opened to his presence. Jesus vanishes, and the disciples, awestruck, realize what has happened. “Were our hearts not burning within us?” they ask one another.

After reading the scripture, Whitney invited the group to share our reflections on the weekend, and Shelley Long could hardly contain her joy. “You guys,” she exclaimed, “Were our hearts not burning within us? This weekend – were our hearts not burning within us??”

Indeed they were. Just as Jesus was among his disciples, so too was he among us – in the wine, in the chats, in the meals, in the tattoos. In the abundance. In the laughter, in the quiet, in the laughter again (there was a lot of laughter). In the prayer. In the Eucharist. In us.

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