August 14, 2009
The Little Portion
The Gift of Living Water, A water Sculpture given to Little Portion Retreat Center Eureka Springs AR
God chose us before the world began, gave us unique talents and gifts, to bring glory to Himself, and these gifts uniquely fit us for the work He has for us. God is outside of time. He looked at this time and inserted us into the timeline. He brings everyone of us into the world for a specific purpose. We can work with Him, to cooperate in our own sanctification and the sanctification of others we come into contact with. That is our call, to be what God has called us to be, wherever we are, to bring glory to Him...
Johnette Benkovic the Abundant Life Show EWTN
I was mindful of this concept all week long as I spent quiet time with God, with a select group of individuals, and before the Blessed Sacrament, finding my place, my bearings after these tumultuous two years...for it has been two years since I set foot on MORE mountain near Eureka Springs....
I was contacted regarding a retreat based on a book written by John Michael Talbot
, that was put together rather suddenly. No one had signed up to come to the previous weeks retreat, which is highly unusual, in fact this current weeks retreat has a waiting list. I replied that I couldn't afford to come, and the weeks lodging and retreat was gifted to me...
Dawn over the valley, and the city of Berryville AR
What a wonderful thing, a total blessing in every way. Not only a place, but a private room close to all of the action I could walk out onto a breezeway and flop on a deck chair and this was the view. Like a cruise ship on a hilltop. I so needed this time to just BE. So I found lodging for Miss Abi and drive the beautiful drive Weds afternoon up into the Ozark mountains, past the beautiful places that I have not seen in so long.
There were two priests, four pastors, including two UMC women pastors, and several people deeply involved with ministry,within their respective churches...but I learned a darker truth, that each and every person participating in this special weekend had a huge burden, from one of the ladies struggling with advancing MS...(she drove by herself from MA., three days driving alone in a van, that is determination, she knew she needed to be there)How about thes ladies from New Brunswick, Canada, who, because french is the first language for them, mistakenly bought tickets to Little Rock and took a cab from there to the retreat, 400.00 of cab fare... to a man who had his family removed from the home over a misunderstanding, a priest trying to decide if her should leave a community he has been a part of for a long time, or accept the challenge for finishing his ministry, yea his very life is a place he loves but has no community with... to a war vet struggling with many issues, and of course our speaker, John Michael Talbot, and the never ending struggle he has with money and red tape with regards to the rebuilding of the monestery, and the care of his flock... and myself, who perhaps has had, to them, a very long and painful ordeal, but much of it has gone undealt with until recently.We were all there for a healing , for a Word and for hope that God would hear us and come and meet us there.
My prayer was that I would learn to choose to not think about the past, it was to be a Woody and Mr. Wonderful free weekend. This was seconded by the retreat mistress, a manager/housemother/ladies spiritual advisor, who got me to confess my difficulties almost on arrival. She agreed to hold me accountable. She would ask me quietly about it during the six days... I also made a big discision that affects my security but would prolong my relationship with him. That door effectively closed, I hope that God will honor that step of faith and my willingness to forgo the comfort of that "ace in the hole..."
I was marginally sucessful. I found during the course of the conversation that both of these people came up as they have been such a huge part of my life...but in my private moments I made every effort to banish thoughts of these two, to focus on myself and my relationship with God and those around me, and am ok with the results... Truth is this exercise has helped lessen the pain somewhat.
I also have a very limited amount of money and time left to find a job, or a vocation with a place to live. My vision was to try to get beyond the dollars and cents, and focus on the idea that I am God's child it is HIS responsibility to provide for me. I need to be willing to do what ever it takes to take advantage of what He provides
The Worship Leader John Michael Talbot leading worship at a session in Ressurection Chapel
The sessions were wonderful, we talked about who St. Francis was and what Franciscan spirituality is about. The basis of the retreat was his book The Lessons of St. Francis
There was a session of Q and A and several meditation exercises that I found helpful. But truthfully I think I found the comraderae of fellow seekers, people that chose at the spur of the moment, to be there and take part in the gathering most helpful and supportive in this trying time in my life. I found myself enjoying everyone I met, and feeling like I am not alone in my feeling like I am living cornered in a no win situation. As I got to know these men and women in sharing meals and down time on the breezeway, in daily chanting of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and other prayers, and suprisingly, in serving them. I realized that I was neither guest or member of the community but something else and put myself at the disposal of the Retreat Mistress, who had me setting up prayerbooks for the twice daily prayers of the Divine Office, which were better attended than I had ever seen at any other retreat I have attended.
Under Construction Charity Chapel rising from the ruins Little Portion Hermatage Berryville AR
Normally the high point of the retreat weekend is a trip to the Hermataige and a celebration of the Vigil Mass with the full community. I remember the first time I was a part of this, and was so totally blown away by the power and enthusiasm of the worship... mind you this is a Catholic Mass... I now anticipate this time with great expectation.
Because the community chapel is under reconstruction, the residents of the community drove up to the retreat center where we crowded into the Chapel of the Ressurection and fired up the Band ie John Michael. We did songs that I knew well and I just threw myself into the whole experience. The homily was given by by Father Phil a retreatant, and basically John Michael gave an altar call not just for a Christian recommitement but also a plug for those in attendance to consider affiliating with the community. He doesnt normally do this but as he said this group felt like a commuity from the first moments we were all together, it was so amazing... As one man shared with me...he had been seeking the love of a family his whole life...he felt like he had found it there at Little Portion... I think he is right. We witnessed a tremendous move of the Spirit including a healing work where one of the Domestic Sisters who has a gift of healing started to move through the group laying hands on us, and as she prayed many of us knew the secrets of some of the others as we had prayed privately together, but Sister knew and the healing work was manifest and I can vouch for the authenticity of the work. I feel much stronger and I am going to need this in the days to come
Giving a Blessing Fr Lambert Leyhorn OFM at 81 years young, off to bless the new Stations of the Cross at the retreat center. He is temporarily acting as spiritual leader of the community while discerning if he should move from San Antonio to Arkansas full time
I looked into John Michaels face, we had talked breifly earlier and other's had been encouraging me. I saw the face of hope in the midst of great uncertainty. I looked around me and saw hope "in the breaking of the Bread". I was challenged to offer to God everything I think is unworthy...my brokenness, my grief, the lonliness and longing for security... all of the trials that I know have passed through the hands of my Loving God, and go forward... and live in the little portion promised to me by my Father in Heaven.
I have made the decision to pursue full communion with the Church. I feel free to do that now. I also presented myself as a candidate for the postulancy of Domestic Expresion of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity. I will remain in my own home and join in when I can in the community activity. I will join a cell group here locally, and perhaps this will make up for my leaving the Emmaus group.For the long term this will bind me to a loving covenant community. I am excited about this and look forward to becomming more and more involved with this.
I have returned form the mountain, and already have run into serious difficulty in both personal and financial issues. Please pray for me and the other retreatants as we move into living out what we leaned in our time on the mountain.
The Bell Tower, where I often sat to pray and think
Labels: BSCD, Catholic, Faith, John Michael Talbot, Little Portion, Scenic Arkansas