Allison Blanton reflects on our second annual women’s retreat, held April 13-15 at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Center.
On a rare Sunday morning when I actually made it to church on time, I listened to Eric’s announcement about the upcoming women’s retreat. I realized this might be just what I needed to start feeling more connected to the church so I decided to sign up – even though it would put me far beyond my comfort zone! As we gathered on Friday night for introductions, with each of us sharing our reason for being there, I was struck by how often the word “connect” was used. We were a very diverse group – ranging in age, backgrounds (except there were a lot of ex-Catholics!) occupations, stages of life, etc.
Although we came from so many directions, it seemed we were all there seeking deeper and more meaningful connections to one another and the church through fellowship.
The weekend continued to be full of opportunities to connect – both within ourselves through meditation and yoga, or with others through meaningful group discussions and casual conversations. We discussed the importance of food for the body as well as the spirit, and how integral fellowship is to the experience of food. We also explored the difference between spirituality and religion, and I realized how worshipping in fellowship with others is one of the key components of religion that differentiates it from spirituality.
As the weekend concluded Sunday morning with the celebration of Holy Eucharist, I was reminded how God came to earth as Jesus to connect with us. As we worshipped on the shore of Smith Mountain Lake, I was also reminded how it is the people, not the building, that make the church. I certainly came back from the retreat feeling much more connected to the church. having made new friends and getting to know old ones better. I encourage everyone to look for opportunities to better connect with your fellow parishioners through fellowship – whether through a retreat, Sunday School, cooking in the kitchen (of course!), small groups or Gathering dinners.
Above: Allison Blanton