Thursday, September 27, 2007

Second Week of Sabbatical -- St Norbert's

I just returned from a three-day silent retreat with some other AG ministers from my district. So far, my time away from church duties has not been particularly enjoyable. That is not to say that it has not been necessary. But it seems that I am evaluating, repenting, forgiving, grieving, letting go--the process of refining is not pleasant. I don't know if much is worthwhile to share or not. At least I won't be doing so quite yet. Later--maybe.

For a couple of days I'll share some of the beauty of the abbey. I'm not sure I was supposed to, but I took my camera along. The stained glass portrayal of Augustine is in the abbey church. A thistle bush is in front of him, representing his struggle with sexual temptation and other sin. He holds a book, representing his prodigious writing. The book contains a flame, representing his zeal for God.

It made me wonder, if someday someone portrayed me symbolically--what would the portrait contain? (A sheep?)

There is a hallway that divides the retreat center from the Norbertine residence. It features themed exhibits, artwork, sculpture, etc. and is changed every few months. Interestingly, right on the heels of Dr. Platypus' Augustine festival (can't get a link to work but I will try later), I found myself in a hallway labeled "Augustine of Hippo." I couldn't help but smile and think of my (slightly disrespectful?) blog post, Ode to St. Augustine. I looked at the photos of great paintings and the sculpture of Augustine pictured as a nude--depicting his conversion experience in the garden. These words from his Confessions were on the wall. How powerful they are!

I came to love you late, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new.
I came to love you late.

You were within me and I was outside,
where I rushed about wildly searching for you...

You were with me but I was not with you.

You called me, you shouted to me, you broke past my deafness!
You flashed, You shone, You bathed me in your light, you wrapped me in your splendour,
You sent my blindness reeling.
You breathed your fragrance on me, and I drew in breath and now I pant for you,
Seeking, breathing hard after you.
I tasted, and it made me hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned to know your peace.


Anonymous said...

A silent retreat sounds really good. Maybe one of these days...

Sista Cala said...

Coming from an A/G background myself; I didn't know A/G folks knew how to be silent. At least, not for long periods of time. ;-)

Perhaps the quiet time is meant to aid contemplation and self-inspection as you have said. Another thing that I am sure it would help me with, would be personal discipline.

Anonymous said...

I popped over here via sista cala's place. (Love her) Nice to meet you, Pastor. As a "hermit at heart" a silent retreat sounds wonderful to me. :D

Just curious about your reference to your symbolic portrayal...Why do you say...(A sheep)?

I love the words that you've quoted... They're powerful and profound ... a true description of the faithfulness of God, His grace, and the relationship that some of us have had with God before we were "captured".

Iris said...

I'm glad you got to do that. Sounds really wonderful, but like you said, tough interior work.