Archives, Biography, Pondering, Wheaton

Spiritual Badminton

They started it. I had called the retreat center in March with more than a little angst. For reasons beyond my control, I needed to find a place for THESE DATES this summer. I had just a few people–but no flexibility with the timing. And I was late in signing up. The retreat director initially said, “Well, it’s a bit complicated. Let me work on it.” And three days later: “Come. We’ll find room for you.”

I only began to figure out what “complicated” meant when Pam and I pulled up to the retreat center…only to be greeted by several friendly nuns and dozens of adolescent girls. No official looking person was anywhere near the front desk so we looked at a map of the facility, found the keys to our rooms, and hastily disappeared…promptly to be greeted by a knock at the door door. “Hmmm, who told you that this was your room?” “It was on the map. “What map?” The map this staff person was carrying had us placed somewhere else.

So, assuring her that we would happily go wherever they put us, we moved our belongings. (It turned out to be much better.) We negotiated a revised time to access our space for the QUIET spiritual retreat we were leading…in the midst of the Center simultaneously moving three groups in and out.

Thus began three days of a game of logistical badminton between the retreat center staff and me. Doing a small retreat on spiritual creativity in the midst of a living amoeba of eighty-six adolescent girls was an adventure in its own kind of creativity. Like the night the staff made a separate dinner line in the back kitchen for the seven of us lest we be swallowed up by the spontaneously alive members of that adolescent amoeba.

At least one of the sister snuck into our vacant room early one morning to see what we were up to, and spent some time pondering Ruble’s marvelous icon of the Trinity. And, from the expansive vista of our meeting room, we delighted in watching another sister kick off her shoes under her imposing white habit and run relay races with the girls.

There were many lovely moments on our spiritual creativity retreat. But for me, one of the most quietly delightful was the creative game we played with the staff. We all played the logistics challenge of the week with a playfulness that reminded me of batting a shuttlecock over a net. I do not believe it ever hit the ground.

Flexibility must surely be kin to receptivity-to God and to each other. And when everyone plays, the game is delightful, indeed. I didn’t think to keep score…but I know we all won.

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