by Bonnie Home
Our traditional District United Methodist Women’s Lenten Retreat date is the first Saturday of March, and it’s traditional to anticipate rain for that day. This year’s retreat kept both traditions! But it was a pleasure to sit in San Jose First UMC’s lobby with its huge, two-story glass walls, eating lunch and visiting with friends while watching the rain fall on San Jose’s handsome City Hall across the street.
Conference Lay Leader Gayle Shearman (photo at right) drove down from Novato to lead the day’s retreat. Her theme was “Windows to Our World.” Gayle’s favorite window scenes are Mt. Shasta near her childhood home, and the rare view of Denali during her Alaska trip. Some retreat participants brought printed photos of what they could see through their windows, but the tech savvy ones held up their cell phones which displayed their pictures. We look outward through our windows, but can also look inward through them.
Gayle divided the day into three sessions. In the Personal Holiness section, she encouraged us to be grounded with both feet firmly planted in our faith, rather than settling as one-footed “spiritual flamingos.” In her Spiritual Holiness talk, she urged us to have a specific devotion time. If we choose “when I wake up” for our devotions, that time could fall during a half hour of insomnia in the middle of the night. If the calendar is too crowded, write the word “something” on one of the free days. When someone tries to fill that day for you, you can honestly say that you already have “something” on that day. The small group discussion during the Social Holiness portion included stories of warming centers for the homeless held at the various churches in our district.
We walked the labyrinth laid out in one of the meeting rooms (see above photo), and took home a finger labyrinth to use later. Craft projects were adorable angels made of beads strung on a large butterfly paper clip (photo below), and “promise bracelets” made of beads.
Women meditated in the prayer room faced the wall-size stained glass window of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, a window that was rescued from the original First UMC sanctuary that burned.
Throughout the day Willow Glen UMC’s John Brewer soothed us with his piano renditions, and accompanied our hymn singing.
The retreat offering was sent to the brand new endowment called “The Legacy Fund,” established by the United Methodist Women in celebration of their 150th anniversary in 2019.
Photos by Bonnie Home.