Heading off to the annual Women’s Retreat tomorrow. In packing, I found the little journal I bring every year, and read what I wrote at last year’s retreat. What a journey the past year has been. I offer my last year’s journal entries as witness.

Women’s Retreat, 2011

Friday. Tonight, for the first time in years, my girls didn’t want me to leave. Instead of shooing me out the door, both girls told me they wished I were staying. I miss them and almost wish I had stayed.

I arrive tonight two days after an almost sleepless night, a night of shock and awe at a glimpse of how Jesus loved – without rules, without boundaries, at risk of his own peril – and yielding in me a sense of urgency and awareness of my own need for ministry. I promised, to two witnesses, to honor my sisters here, and to love them, transparently, without defenses.

And then I arrive to a pajama fashion show, where I am supposed to play runway model while things are read about me.

And I can’t do it. I could. I don’t want to. I didn’t. Stand in front in my jammies (sweats & fraying T-shirt)? In this body, which I am not currently willing to take out in public except it’s attached to me? I don’t think so.

Fear? No. Self-consciousness? Sure. Mostly just a very clear sense of No. Does this mean I don’t love my sisters? Surely not. But that is not who I am.

Who I am: later, smaller conversations, with Pam, Cara, Amy, Nicole; last one up talking; listening more than talking, but trying to be open. Knitting: a scarf for an Independent friend.

Being transparent and open does not have to mean being who I’m not. It does mean loving who God brings to me.

Tomorrow: the speaker, and free time. And I will sing, and then I will knit, and I will listen, and pray, and talk with women I know and don’t know, and I will wonder about being loving and about how to go deeper.

Saturday. The conversations have been outstanding. Much time today spent with Cara, Pam, Jen, and Amy. Strong, complex, interesting women, all; all carrying (and I also) some sense of anxiousness about our own shortcomings. But together…what more we could become! Together, we have such strength and skill and experience and wisdom. And potential.

The first Hope United (covenant discipleship group) gathering is Monday, at Cara’s. I pray God’s blessing, presence, and guidance for us. I am not afraid.

And we’re planning the retreat for next year. It’s off to a rich start, with a page full of ideas, and a plan.

One of my gifts, I think: to spark something, an idea, a conversation with purpose, and help it find a home.

Carrie told me tonight at supper that she thought of me as an example of a peaceful person. Would that have been true, ten years ago? No.

All that I have, is gift from God.