Earlier this month, 75 people attended our annual Generous Spaciousness Retreat. Most were from southern Ontario, but some came from as far as Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, and New Brunswick! We spent three days together at a conference center on a frozen lake, laughing, crying, eating, singing, praying, listening to each other’s stories, and watching God work in us and through us.
One of the retreat participants, Chad, had this to say about the experience…
“Last year’s retreat was life changing, so coming to this year’s retreat I knew the experience wouldn’t be quite the same. This past year has been a whirlwind. My partner and I are involved with two community groups in which we are using Generous Spaciousness as our model. Wehave also been starting conversations with our church leadership about the LGBTQ community. I’ve also had to deal with some difficult conversations with family. This is hard stuff, and even in the week before this retreat, I was really starting to feel down and wanting to give up.
I arrived at the retreat feeling anxious and a bit angry, because I had expected some of our church leadership to attend, and other people from our community, but they weren’t there. Once again, I asked myself, “What’s the point?” But soon enough, familiar faces brightened my mood and I was excited to start the weekend.
Saturday morning I awoke early, my mind anxious and stirring. I prayed, “God please give me what I need to hear, and release this anxiety and anger.” Saturday morning we heard Rob Walker’s keynote/sermon and I was convicted as I realized that the words he was speaking were the ones I needed to hear. “I AM BELOVED.” How can such beautiful words be so difficult to believe? God was answering my prayer. We attended a workshop on shame, and once again, I found more and more things God was telling me to listen to. I heard stories in my community group that broke my heart, and softened my heart. Again, God was answering my prayer.
By the end of the weekend I had heard what God wanted me to hear. He gave me the strength to continue. He gave me the wisdom and courage to be light in the dark. He gave me the reminder that what I am trying to do is GOOD. I will continue this journey that I am on. I will continue knowing that I AM BELOVED. There will be hard days again but I know I have my local community and my New Direction community who will be there for me.
One last thing… singing and worshiping at these retreats always speaks to me deeply. There is something about being with a group of broken people that takes worship to another level. It is real… it is sincere… it is TRUE. The words to the songs, the words to the prayers – when we sing and say them we all know they mean something to us, it isn’t just “words”… they are life.”
Thank you for your reflections, Chad!