Friday afternoon, 14 young women from our church headed towards Mountain T.O.P. for a weekend retreat (just 1 hr, 30 mins from Nashville). Our first stop was to the locally owned Mountain Goat Market for dinner around a large picnic table with the setting sun behind us. Friday night we hung out on our cabin’s porch in rocking chairs. Some went to bed, and some stayed up playing games. Saturday, we woke slowly, coming to breakfast through the 8 am hour. As our 9:00 session began, we listened for God’s spirit speaking to us through 1 Kings 19. We spoke of life as God intends: to be rested, well-fed, to come back to the question, “What are you doing here?” We spoke of God never leaving our side. We spoke of the gentle whisper of God to be found in the silence.
We then set off alone on a Sabbath Walk with no agenda and nowhere specific to go. We used our senses, stopping when something piqued our interest, moving on easily when it felt right. After 30 minutes we regrouped and debriefed our time. There were tears from untouched pain, moments of relief, gratitude for a swing tied to a tree that beckoned someone to play, and yes, some anxiousness, too. We felt the peace and freedom found in allowing ourselves to “be.”
After lunch, we headed to Greeter Falls and Stone Door for some hiking. For as many times as I’ve traveled to that huge bluff in the sky, I have never felt the wind so strongly. As we sat there in silence on that rock, I remembered that whisper on a mountainside from our morning scripture. I felt a sense of fullness. I felt God moving in my heart, but also in our little community perched above the trees.
When we returned to camp and wrapped up our teaching, we looked back on our day. It included honesty about our self-worth and identities as women; how our society challenges who we are with certain expectations, and how we, too, place high ones on ourselves. We were challenged to ground our sense of self in God; to remember God created males and females in God’s image; to remember “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”; to remember that loving our neighbors as ourselves means we have to love ourselves well. As such, we practiced handing our hearts to God for assurance and worth. Our song and prayer for the weekend went like this: “Here’s my heart, Lord. Here’s my heart, Lord. Here’s my heart, Lord. Speak what is true.”
And now, as we have re-entered our day to day lives, full of job responsibilities and parenting fails, we are tuned into the wavelength of grace. We are still singing and praying to be realigned with the truth. We are excited that this is just the beginning of renewal together.
We would love for you to join us next time!
Rev. Sam McGlothlin