On my walk in the woods, I saw a bright orange mushroom shaped like a tiny ballistic missal emerging from the ground. I took a picture. The next morning, I saw the same mushroom only it had opened into full flower – an amazing transformation from one morning to the next.
Mushrooms grow in composting earth, nice words for what some might call rotten waste. Mushrooms love it, but it is certainly not the environment we would usually choose for growth. Instead of bemoaning its surroundings, evolution taught the mushroom spore to find a way to tap into the rich nutrients of its surroundings, grow and bloom.
Sometimes our place in the world is none too pleasant. Circumstances have swept us away from what was comfortable, predictable and ‘normal’. Personally, before COVID, my talents and gifts were lining up nicely in my new career as a director of a retreat center. All of the pieces were coming together for a bright future filled with engaging and transformational retreats offered by a wide diversity of groups.
Because of all of the precautions and restrictions, instead of new bookings, I’m fielding cancellations. Instead of meeting people who might want to use the retreat center, I’m doing landscaping, painting and carpentry.
For a while, I resisted moving forward in this world. It is not my world. My surroundings are filled with a lot of unpleasant realities. I don’t want to wade through the compost. I don’t want to be surrounded by decay. But that is exactly where God has placed me at this point in time.
The prophets were often asked to ‘bloom’ in some of the most undesirable locations. I think of Jonah, who did not at all want to go to Ninevah and preach repentance to a hostile and corrupt nation. Being a slow learner, it took being cast overboard and swallowed by a big fish before he realized his life would be miserable until he goes to the place where he didn’t want to go and say the words he did not want to say to a people who did not want to listen. He ultimately did as the Lord instructed and the nation was converted and healed.
Isaiah replies to God’s call: “Woe is me… I am living among a people of unclean lips.” (Is 6) Even so, it was to these people that Isaiah became one of the most influential and literary prophets of the Old Testament.
The prophets found a way to get God’s message out in spite of their undesirable environment, or perhaps it was precisely this undesirable environment that made their message so effective.
I’ve opted to do the same. The large retreats have cancelled, but we’ve gotten better at hosting some smaller retreats, even private and individual retreats. The in-person networking has ceased but our email, web and social media platforms have expanded. We’ve tried more unique events in the last three months than the retreat center has in the last 3 years.
Even if this new Covid landscape seems at first unpleasant and unwelcome, I can still look for ways to tap into the nutrients laying beneath the surface, still look for opportunities for growth, still bloom in ways that I had not previously imagined.
How is God asking you to bloom where you’re planted?
PS. The above reflection and others like it can be found on my new blog site: My Morning Reflections. Check it out.
Exciting New Retreats and Events
“Date Night” with a Saint
Every Thursday Beginning September 17
This September, we’ll be resuming our series, “Date Night with a Saint”. Each session will begin with a
meal at 6:00 PM, followed by a reflection, and conclude with a final blessing at 8:00 PM. For those who arrive early, there will be a Holy Hour of Adoration from 4:45 PM to 5:45 PM before each session.
For the first four Thursdays, we’ll explore the spirituality of Mother Teresa. Learn how her life’s example may help you overcome discouragements and guide you in your own spiritual journey. The discussions will be guided by the new book written by the beloved papal preacher, Fr. Raniero Cantalamesa, The Spirituality of Mother Teresa. There is no cost, but donations will help defer the cost of the meals. The presentations for each evening will stand-alone, so come to one or all. Click here to register or for more information. After getting to know Saint Teresa of Calcutta, we’ll move on to her mentor, Saint Therese of Lisieux.
We’ll have chairs and dining tables easily 6′ apart in spacious, we’ll ventilated meeting rooms, with all other safey protocols in place.
Blessing of the Animals
12:00 PM Sunday, October 4
On the Feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, bring your animal to for a traditional blessing of the animals on the grassy lawns of the center. An outdoor cookout will follow. Take some time to explore the property with your family and your pet(s). The price for the cookout is $15 per person, $25 per family. An outdoor Catholic Mass will begin at 11:00 AM for those that are interested. All of the above is weather permitting. Please email or call 828.327.7441 to reserve your place.
Renew, Refocus, Recharge
A One-Night Retreat for Pastors
Pastors of all denominations are encouraged to attend this retreat to consider pathways beyond Covid-19 crisis. The retreat will offer some timely presentations on soul-care and congregational-care. There will also be plenty of time for both private reflection and a unique opportunity to collaborate with peers. There will be three presenters for this retreat – Simply Soul Stirrings, Performing Well, and Harbor of Wisdom – who have a wealth of experience working with congregations and pastor health. The retreat follows Pastor Appreciation Sunday. Treat your pastor to a day away from the office to renew, refocus, and recharge his or her ministry. For more information, email or call 828.327.7441.
Women of Faith – A Mother’s Story
Retreat November 6-7
Come and experience a joy-filed and soulful performance to get you ready for the Advent Season. The events of the First Christmas come to life through the eyes of the women who were around Mary: her mother Anne; her cousin Elizabeth; Leah of the House of David; a shepherdess; and Anna, a Seeress in the Temple.
Explore the events that led to Jesus’ birth and the faith of those who played a role in God’s promise being fulfilled… but most importantly, explore your faith in God and the presence of miracles in your life.
The retreat will be a series of dramatic presentations selected from the play, Faith: A Mother’s Story and performed by Olivia Woodford.
Olivia is a member of Network of Biblical Storytellers Int’l, the Founder of Healing Theatre, and a professional storyteller. About her career she says, “I have explored the nature and power inherent in story. With a career focused on how to marry theater with the sacred, I was inspired to create sacred dramas based on the gospels to have the words and verses leap from the page and into our lives and hearts in a meaningful and beautiful way.”
The discounted price is $150 per person, $275 per couple. This includes overnight lodging, three full-course meals prepared by our own executive chef in his 100% sanitation rated kitchen, all materials, and fees.
For more information, or to register, call us at 828.327.7441, email or visit our website. Spacing is limited, so register now.
Make 2021 a Happy, Holy New Year
Retreat 12/31/2020 through 1/2/2021
Without a doubt, it’s been quite a year. To close this year out, and to start the next year with the right frame of mind, body, spirit and soul, the center is pleased to offer a unique two night retreat experience. On New Year’s Eve, we’ll have a banquet style meal with festivities after. On New Year’s Day we’ll have the traditional New Year’s meal. Throughout the retreat, Fr. Peter Tremblay will be back, delivering powerful and inspirational messages to help us go forward into an promising but uncertain future.
We’ll be opening registrations soon. We’ve already have several ready to sign up. Please let us know if you’re interested and we’ll reserve a spot for you. Call us at 828.327.7441, email or visit our website. Spacing is limited, so register now.
Fun Making Pasta Class
Saturday, September 26 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Our new chef wants to share some of his culinary gifts. Join him this Saturday morning and learn how to make your own pasta, flavoring it with your choice of herbs. The class will conclude by a light lunch that will include the pasta you just made. To keep everyone safely separated, we’ll cap off registration at 10 people, so reserve your place now, email or call 828.327.7441. Price of $25 includes all of the tools and materials you’ll need, plus a delicious lunch. You need not bring anything but an appetite and a desire to learn something new.
Sunday Fun-Day Brunch
September 20, at 11:00 AM
Come join us for Sunday brunch in a beautiful venue. Before and after the brunch, explore the grounds or play some of our games, both in doors and outside. We have plenty of space in our dining area to safely separate our guests, and the kitchen has a 100% sanitation rating. We’ll happily provide you with trail maps and any gaming equipment you need to play badminton, horse shoes, corn hole, Frisbee, Jinga, Dominoes and many more. Reserve your space by calling or visiting our website.
“Find Your Center” Personal Retreat Specials
If you’re looking for some time away, searching for some answers or need some direction, consider scheduling a private or guided retreat at the Center. We have various options, and can tailor a format specific to your needs. These may include one-on-one spiritual mentoring, guidance as to how to make the most of your retreat, and other materials. See your website for more information or to register. These are for all types of persons. We’ve had women and men, married and single, seminarians, friends and couples. Maybe we can find just what you need.
If none of these retreats and events are what you really need at this time of transition and crisis, let us know how we can provide what you do need. Email the director, Deacon Scott D. Gilfillan, with any requests or suggestions.
Talk to us when you’re planning your next:
We’ve got a super-talented staff and great facilities to help you put together an amazing event.