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With Gratitude, Awe and Wonder

posted Sep 24, 2012, 7:00 AM by Amelia Fannin   [ updated Sep 24, 2012, 7:00 AM by in apropos ]
Thank you to everyone who helped make Sunday an amazing day.  From our Grace Discussion Group to the musically stunning service, from the meetings with parents and children to the luncheon with the Vestry, I think Bishop Shaw was able to witness the spirit working in this place.  A special thank you to Mary Sweezy, who along with Carolyn Wong and Jenny Rosser, put on a beautiful and delicious luncheon.

I feel called to write about the Vestry Retreat which took place on Saturday.  The retreat offered a rare opportunity for both individual and group spiritual growth.  For a leadership body that spends most of its time together working, this was an important experience.  After gathering in place and spirit, we were invited into a time of silent meditation -- meditation shaped by the readings on gratitude, awe and wonder by Sister Joan Chittister and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Reflection #1 -- Seeing
I spent my time thinking about how I feel immense gratitude for the people that feed my spirit and soothe my soul.  I also spent time thinking about why I feel called to witness the beauty of the physical world around us -- the sunlight on a flower petal, the fiery red sunset, or the mountains enrobed in purple. (I've been known to photograph the stained glass spilling a festive pattern across the piano during a church service.)  One cannot witness, what one does not see. In being called to witness, I am being invited to see with gratitude, awe and wonder the people, places and things around me.

Reflection #2 - listening
I shared the word, “open” at the start of our retreat, wanting to keep an open mind and an open heart.  I shared the word, “listening” at the close of the retreat.  I tried very hard to listen to what everyone was saying and not to what I wanted to hear.  We are called to be a witness, not only to that which we know and love, but also to that which we don’t understand or struggle with.  I listened.  I listened with gratitude, awe and wonder, as my fellow leaders spoke.  I heard. I heard beautiful, honest, and important ideas, hopes and dreams.

Here's the part of the closing prayer I was asked to read:

"May you always know the wisdom of deep listening,
The healing of wholesome words,
The encouragement of the appreciative gaze,
The decorum of held dignity,
The springtime edge of the bleak question."

Given the things I had been exploring and reflecting on, I found this to be an extremely fitting passage for me.

Here’s what I found myself humming as I left the retreat:
“Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

With gratitude, awe, and wonder for the people of Grace.

Jennifer Reed, Senior Warden