By Connie Detwiler
What happens when 40 women from six different conferences gather for a weekend at Camp Hebron, to wonder, “What has God placed me on this earth to be about?” A Sister Care, Level 2 “Going Deeper” retreat happens!
Imagine rainy weather, rustic camp cabins, a small chapel in the woods, table groups of friends and strangers, beautifully sung songs, and when you become part of this event, it has the capacity to change lives in wonderful ways.
Beginning Friday evening and throughout the weekend, our hearts were stirred by words and teachings from Carolyn Heggen, psychotherapist specializing in trauma healing, and Rhoda Keener, Sister Care Director for Mennonite Women USA, that brought to our awareness the fact that Jesus was clearly divine, truly cared for women in his culture and went far beyond the expectations of his day in the empowering way he related to women.
Reflecting on the story of Hagar, we pondered, “How does God see me? What is my unique way of giving and receiving love in the world?” When we work out of our own calling and giftedness, God’s energy works through us. In our journals we jotted moments in our lives when we were so absorbed by what we were doing that we were caught up in God’s energy, Spirit and Being. Encouraged to write our own personal mission statement, mine included, “To be a face of love, with a heart of listening, stopping long enough to stoop down and walk with those who are hurting and desire healing.”
Saturday found us evaluating personal boundaries with church and home commitments, relationships and personal space. Role playing, enacting various scenarios was meaningful as we learned possibilities for boundary setting. Finding ways to say “no” so that we can say “yes” to God is where our joy will be.
Everyone has their own life story; one that can be lived with hope and joy, or one that can paralyze us. God wants to take the yuckiest, saddest and most toxic experiences of our lives and make something beautiful. This happens when we let God redeem our stories by remembering our stories in a different way so we can move on.
Sunday morning brought teaching regarding walking with others through losses and grief and focused on the complexity of ambivalent grieving, times when our losses may not be visible to others or are complicated by regret, unfinished work, or unanswered questions. Carolyn reminded us that God suffers and agonizes with us during those times. Our weekend closed as we experienced the power of ritual while anointing one another’s hands, forehead, or heart, followed by prayer.
When the group was asked, “What has Sister Care meant to you?”, writings posted included:
- My Sister Care group saved my life.
- Time to think about my passion and mission at this point in my life.
- Chance to work on my issues so I can better serve others.
- No experience is wasted with God!
- Wonderful music!
- A time to re-evaluate my life.
- Safe space.
- I am loved.
God’s presence was seen, heard and felt during our weekend together as we experienced time and space for inner reflection, prayer, healing, creativity, new friendships, care and love, and meaningful discoveries about ourselves and our place on this earth.