For all I've had little to write about lately, mostly because I have been away due to business travel, today I have way too much! (And though I'm back aboard airplanes tomorrow this is a relatively short trip; I return home Thursday evening for 8 whole days before heading out again.)
The obvious place to start is yesterday's Parish Retreat, this year at the Rosary Heights in Woodway, on Puget Sound. The pictures do not do the place justice -- it is beautiful, and I have no doubt but that we'll be returning there next year. Possibly even with an overnight stay.
Every participant received a copy of "Abba" by Evelyn Underhill, meditations on the Lord's Prayer. (Her writings were featured in last year's retreat also, with "The Spiritual Life.") This could be read during the silent sessions, though for me it required the full time of the sessions -- I'm normally a quick reader, but there was a lot to consider in this small book.
We started with Matins and a meditation by a guest speaker who joined us for the day (and I hope he'll join us again next year). Between the meditation and the book, there was a lot to consider. It was a good thing Fr. Daniel had requested we leave our cellphones in the car -- as it turned out I would have been interrupted/distracted at critical times if I hadn't.
There were morning and afternoon "leadership" sessions during the retreat; in the morning one group saw the video "The Case For Christ" (an atheist critically studies the evidence of Jesus' existence and resurrection and becomes a Christian) while Fr. Daniel met with the Lay Readers to conclude the training begun Wednesday evening.
The Lay Readers all received a copy of our provincial Canons, which in Canon 21 spells out the conditions and functions of Lay Readers. We also received a copy of The Service of Holy Communion Annotated, a commentary by the Rev. Dr. Peter Toon (we used this book in a study of Holy Communion a year or so ago), as well as a few pages Fr. Daniel composed titled "Instruction for Lay Readers," including the Canons and suggested forms of a number of services including Morning and Evening Prayer, the Penitential Office, Offices of Instruction, the Burial Offices, and so on, with discussion of how the services were to be modified when a Lay Reader conducts them. I can only hope I'm never called on to conduct The Burial of a Child; that would be hard (but maybe more so as child mortality rates are so much lower today than they once were).
The silent retreat followed the group sessions, and though I'd brought one of my cameras to record some of the retreat (in part an experiment in shooting in digital RAW mode, a capability added using firmware installed on the memory card), it stayed in the "Morning Room" during the quiet times. The book's meditations soon grabbed my attention anyway.
I tried to go outside and read, but fall seems to have come a little early and it was just the slightest bit too chilly for me -- probably because I'd just come back from a week in Atlanta where it was considerably warmer. (But ugh! Nothing like Phoenix, where I'm headed tomorrow.)
Lunch. Wow, what a difference a chef can make! Simple fare, bread and pasta, and though I usually dislike pasta whatever Drew did to it made it good.
After lunch Matt led us in The Litany, we had a second meditation. Included was why being a small parish can be A Very Good Thing, not the least being the parish family element; this was something Kathy & I felt almost instantly when we first visited St. Bartholomew's almost 25 years ago, it is something I hope and believe our visitors these days feel -- it was certain our friend (no longer just "guest") saw it during the retreat. (And it is like a family, including the occasional squabble over this or that, but we go on regardless and whatever it was is soon forgotten.) How to hang on to that as we grow?
The afternoon "group" session had the Vestry meeting in the Garden Room, while I watched "The Case For Christ." The main points I had known, but the additional elements (including the point that the Romans didn't start using crucifixion until centuries after Psalm 22, and here my memory of what was said is a little unclear) make it so much more compelling. Very much worth watching, in my opinion -- the conclusion that, having examined the evidence, it took more faith to be an atheist than to believe in Jesus the Son of God, was compelling. (Was this material for a retreat? I'm not sure, but I'm glad I saw it anyway.)
A sad element came in when we learned that one of our members' cousin was at that time on the verge of death, if he had not already passed away. He had introduced her to sailing, many years ago, and they'd often sailed past our current location. (A prayer for the repose of his soul was said this morning.)
By the end of the afternoon a few people had had to leave, but everyone else clearly wanted to stay on a bit more. Dee and Joanne were more than ready to take up residency in this beautiful facility.
I know I am not the only one looking forward to next year's retreat!
Kairos: Kathy was not able to attend this year's retreat, sadly. Thursday she headed down to Gig Harbor to work "Base Camp" for the Kairos Prison Ministry retreat for women incarcerated at the Womens' Corrections Center of Washington, also known as "Purdy." She was able to take Friday evening off to take me home from the airport, but was back on the job Saturday with primary responsibility for the cookies. (Every day during Kairos, Thursday through Sunday, every prisoner in the prison receives a bag of cookies.)
Although Kathy had not quite reached her personal goal of 100 dozen cookies, there were enough left over that they will be added to those collected for next weekend's Kairos in the men's prison in Clallam Bay. (Several parishioners worked very hard baking cookies -- the night before I understand that DeeDee and Drew were up all night baking, though I don't know how their kids could sleep through delicious smells like that.)
Kathy's part ended this morning, early enough that she was able to join us for the service, and to spell Josephine at the organ during communion as she usually does.
"Palanca"/gifts: Those who've been through Cursillo/Walk to Emmaus/Kairos are often asked for gifts to those going through such. Kathy reported some of the testimonies in some such. I don't know if she can relate the content here, but I hope she will. There's something especially poignant about one convict who became a believing Christian reaching out to another convict.
Seminarians' Care Package: While I was away, Kathy reported that she'd gone out and bought some items for the fall Seminarians' Care Package, to be sent to the seminarians at our seminary. I had wondered at this because I had not seen an announcement from Fr. Daniel, and it was slightly past the Ember Days where we usually conduct such, but an announcement was in the bulletin today and the box to receive such items will be in the Parish Hall through next Sunday. It is suggested that there could be an emphasis on items of a local or regional nature; for the Pacific Northwest this includes Starbuck's coffee (or Seattle's Best), salmon, and so on. The seminarians can relax this time: the stores Kathy hit were out of Space Noodles.
Scripture Study: The summer 9 AM Bible Study class appears to have come to an end. This morning I was racing to get there in time, knowing the best I could was to reduce my tardiness, when I got a text message from Fr. Daniel that the class was canceled. I still don't know why but that's okay because I was able to go back and take care of a couple items I'd left undone in order to get out the door sooner.
But over the four Sundays of October Drew is conducting a class in "The Flesh & The Spirit in the writings of St. Paul," at 9 AM in the Parish Hall. Knowing Drew, this is going to be quite interesting! Unfortunately, about the time he starts the first class I'll probably be sitting down for dinner in Germany. Maybe Kathy can record it for me with tape recorder and camera.
New members: Today's bulletin noted that next Sunday we'll be receiving four new members into our parish family: Christy H., John J., and Bob & Diane F. This must be a formal reception, because several of these folks have been coming for some time. We got to know then-visitors Diane & Bob during the Group Outing: Dead Squirrels Exhibit last January, and I am happy they're joining our little parish family -- though I have to say the same for all four folks!
An embarrassment of riches: There's so much more I could write about here, but there will likely be time for other things later. I think this is enough for one day...
... or maybe not. Fr. Daniel didn't notify me, but in updating the website this afternoon I discovered his latest article on The Hymnal, 1940. Check it out.