As promised, here’s a further account of my adventures to date.
It was in the heart of Miami, but set apart in a way that is patently impossible to do while in the heart of Miami –a fact that made the Morningstar Renewal Center a living paradox.
Okay. I’m exaggerating. It was in no way “living.”
The retreat center was . . . interesting. It was definitely a culture shock of sorts since I didn’t realize what I was walking into. I’ll admit, I’m a bit spoiled. Any time I’ve ever gone out of town for something like this, I’ve been put up in a nice hotel with great amenities: free wi-fi; continental breakfast; cable television; a gym I’ll never be caught dead using.
Y’know, the works. I’m an American, I have expectations.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I discover there are no private bathrooms at this center and shared dormitory-style living quarters. Now, this wasn’t a huge problem. I could live like this for a few days. I’m spoiled, but I’m not selfish. I wasn’t about to demand a hotel room or something equally ridiculous. I know I’m there to serve, not to be served.
I’m just sayin’, though. Preferentially speaking, I’m a pretty private person and I like my space. But hey, if I have to get up before the sun to commandeer the showers so I don’t unexpectedly come face to face with some stranger who I am in no way inclined to accidentally show my lady bits to, then so be it. I’ll survive.
So basically, I became a communist for Jesus.
In other news, the grounds were sprawling and wide and gorgeous. There were sights to see and paths to trek with surprising beauty to be found. Were I able to actually get pictures up here, I’d show you.I rather enjoyed going for walks in the short breaks we were afforded between sessions. Like I said, it was incredibly situated, this campus –in the middle of a city that was teeming with life and bustle and activity. How was it so peaceful? What a puzzle.
Overall, it was an enlightening three days. I haven’t been that active in quite some time, come to think of it, and the sheer intensity of constantly doing was refreshing. Needed, even. I am most certainly at a point in my life where I’ve stagnated and –quite frankly–become lazy. I spoke of being complacent in an earlier post. This past weekend made me aware that it’s even more true than I’m comfortable admitting.
And I haven’t even mentioned the strain I underwent physically yet. Singing and playing piano for nearly 14 hours straight every day takes a particular kind of toll on the body that I haven’t been accustomed to since maybe yesteryear when I last did a retreat of this sort. My hands and wrists were so sore after the first day of playing, and I’m pretty sure singing all those pop-styled songs undid some of the progress I made vocally this semester (my voice teacher will be thrilled come the fall, I’m sure).
There’s a lot that seems to have blurred into the background of my memory that I wish I could bring to the forefront to tell you about. I have terrible recall for events and happenings in my life, as I’m sure anyone could tell you. That’s why I either don’t tell stories about my past or tell the same stories over. Not everything sticks in my head when it comes to my own experiences. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to post something nightly. No matter. Perhaps I’ll just resolve to stick to that even if I can only do so from the humble resource known as the iPhone.
We got back yesterday, so today was mostly dedicated to unpacking, repacking, reorganizing music, and catching up with people. This time Wednesday, I’ll be in San Antonio, Texas, in a convent (so I hear). So I’ll basically become a nun for 5 days.
In closing, I’ll let you in on a thought of mine: It all still feels quite surreal. This is my life now. I get to do what I love to do and see the country while I’m at it. How did this happen to me, of all the people in this world? Someone, somewhere is bound to deserve this opportunity more than I do, and I think that is the root of my gratitude for it.
And I think that’s where all gratitude begins: In realizing that you’ve received something through no merit of your own. I said before that I was pegged for this because of my musical ability and the work I’ve been doing for Shalom thus far. But that isn’t true. I’m here because Someone, Somewhere thinks I need to be here. He’s prepared a particular path for me. I have a lot of wounds, a lot of pains, and a lot of questions. Even experiencing just one of these retreats has started to open my eyes to how deep my confusion has run over the past half year.
I’m digressing again. That’s another topic for another day. I’ll end on this: I am grateful.