Monday, May 05, 2008


Laity Lodge Water

Recently, Long Island Express Girl talked about how her journey to Mount Hermon shook things up in her soul. Sorted things. Righted things. Clarified. As a result, she's actually going to change churches.

Journeys can do that for us. Turn things upside down and sideways. Take us away, only to bring us home with a new perspective. Bring us to action.

In his book The Attentive Life, Leighton Ford talks about embarking on a second journey, along which we begin more and more to become our true selves, to discover the true End of our lives. We often need, he says, a spiritual jolt to start us on the second journey, to make us stop and listen long enough to pay attention to what God is saying to us. (p.139) As I thought about Long Island Express Girl, I considered that, in going away, she had experienced a jolt that got her to stop and listen, to pay attention.

In the past year this jolt has been for me, quite simply, going nowhere at all. Just my own back yard. And I'm going to write about that, as many of you already know.

But even as I prepare to write about that, I'm quietly stepping into a new place. Yes, I spent a year going nowhere to go somewhere. Now I'm thinking about the flip side. Going somewhere to go somewhere. I may not manage to do any of these retreats offered by the people at Laity Lodge (sigh), but I am feeling a nudge to step beyond my own geography to discover the true End to my life.

I don't know where you're at. Maybe this year you need to stay put in your own back yard. Or maybe you need to journey elsewhere. If you're led to take a journey, you might just want to retreat to Texas. The offer to win that opportunity might be all the jolt you need.

Picture 2

Photos of Laity Lodge provided by Laity Lodge. Retreat Logo and Banner design by L.L. Barkat. If you want to join the High Calling Blogs group writing project and share your thoughts about the issue of retreat, alert Mark Goodyear and link to Chris Cree where all posts on this theme will be featured.


LL's Retreat to Appreciate
Kathy's poignant Only the Strong Retreat and Surrender
Carl's enchanting and profound Sacred Ingress
Gordon's lull-you-into-longing A Listening Prayer
Sam's touching story Asleep I Sang with the Body of Christ
Robert's surprise meetings, body and soul: The Power of Retreat
Mary's simple thoughts: Retreat, Retreat, Retreat... at Home
Spaghettipie's brief but powerful time of Retreat
Heather's poetic thoughts on Retreating into Creation
Gerrard's persuasive 10 Reasons: Retreats, Why?
A. Anjeanette's thoughtful (as always) It's God Who Draws Us to Retreat
Brandon's climb to retreat: The Symbol on the Rock

Ted Gossard started a book club for Stone Crossings. I love his first post and the surprising place of his conversion! If you'd like to listen in or comment on the conversation, check out Stepping Stones-Conversion. It would also be great to hear your own stories of conversion. If you post on the topic, you could feel free to upload your story to the Zimbio Stone Crossings Book Club.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand this journey--this understanding of how God designed you and how you use this to worship Him. I've been on this journey, and the past two years, there have been two stones on my crossing related to the people you mention here--changing churches (a hard decision to make, but one of the best decisions my husband and I made) and learning to accept myself as a writer, as an artist. This last part especially took digging, emptiness, distance, and retreat.
Hmm, maybe I should blog about it ;)

12:37 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

The strange thing about journeys is that they're made up of putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again, many times without having no idea where the path goes or whether you're even ON a path. Like Heather, maybe I should blog about it ;)

Thanks for sharing, LL.

1:14 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

hello, friend. this post provoked my thoughts in many directions. first, this thought about going nowhere to go somewhere. so many people these days seem to be sitting in just this place. second, that book by leighton ford sounds intriguing. and third, what beautiful banners you created! they invoke peace; your words provoke thought.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

This post is full of good stuff. Book ideas and thoughts on retreats. I took a retreat last year for the first time, and again this year. Both of them were more on the spiritual side, to just spend time listening to God's voice. I'd love to do focused more on writing. I highly recommend making retreats a regular habit, if only for a few hours each month. Something happens, much like Long Island Express Girl speaks of.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

I like Leighton Ford's idea about leading an attentive life. It brings to mind another phrase I've heard tossed around--about the tyranny of the urgent.

I get so caught up in busy-ness and productivity, that I forget how to rest. Even when I try to rest, I find myself trying to do so productively. Catch up on books. Or writing more poems or whatever.

How does one truly stop? How do we get off the merry-go-round? Unless we go somewhere like Mt. Hermon or Laity Lodge?

4:34 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

mmm ... this hits me where i'm at. i've been thinking much about journey lately, considering my own recent jolts, & where i am now: sitting & waiting, not going much of anywhere. there's hope & expectancy with this waiting, but [argh], it's still waiting.

i took a week off for retreat about a year ago & so much has happened since then. perhaps it's time to look back on those journal entries, those prayers & dialogues with God: to see where i've been & maybe get some clues about where He'd have me go.

4:43 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Heather... oh, of course I've gotta love how you sprinkled in that language (stones on my crossing)! And by all means, do blog about it! Win that retreat for you and spouse.

Sarah... I like that. I guess sometimes we think we know where we're going, but each step has its own unique events that may be surprising. And, yes, you should blog about it too!

Christianne... I think that in most cases I believe we don't have to go anywhere at all to learn what we need to learn. And that is a good thing. Then, for some of us, we need to find ourselves in an unfamiliar place altogether at times. It makes our senses keen. I like the Ford book. A lot of great thoughts. And thanks for the kind words about the artwork; I had fun doing it.

Dianne... do you do local retreats? Is that how you manage them with such frequency? (Maybe you should blog about yours TOO. :)

Mark... yup. True rest is a learned thing, I think. Maybe we begin that learning on a retreat. Or maybe we just find ourselves in a desperate place and we've got to change. Those who don't change, well, life stays hard.

Kirsten... oh, you too! Will you blog about some of that stuff from the journals? You, like everyone else here today, have got me wanting to read about other people's experiences with retreat. :)

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms. Barkat,
GO! This is so cool.
That's a place I've been. We had to drive down a riverbed to actually get in there.
The largest beautiful memory from that place was waking up in the middle of the night singing a hymn! Loudly!
Of course, that scared some, amused others and certainly inspired me.
Never awoke near midnight before or since singing, and a hymn I can't remember now.
(I think it had something about bringing "forth the royal diadem" in the lyrics).
Sorry if I got excited there, but it helped define my relationship with God.

10:40 PM  
Blogger Michelle Gregory said...

Hmmmm... God rested on the 7th day and tells us to rest. He told his people to take a year of Jubilee. Jesus escaped from the crowds all the time, either into the mountains or to the home of Lazarus. Why do we think we can go through life without a rest? How can we hear what God wants to say if we don't slow down to listen? Why won't we take regular retreat times?

Instead, we drive ourselves into the ground with our busy-ness and driven-ness. No wonder we can't hear God. No wonder we're tired all the time.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Great thoughts here. I need all the jolts I can get; especially feeling that way today.

Now I could use this kind of journey myself. I feel that way lately. A journey nowhere perhaps at this point, in my own vicinity. But that sounds like a great next book. Have your post ready to hit blogosphere by 5 am tomorrow, I mean on the first chapter of your new book. It was fun to do!

Just recently I had the sense of facing the end of my life. I think for me it's something I'm going to need to do on a regular basis, this kind of journeying you're referring to here, I think. I think I need to do this, and I appreciate what you share from the Long Island Express Girl along with Leighton Ford, whose thoughts I have found intriguing as to this part of his journey.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

That top photo is perfect! The water is tranquil, and it looks like an ideal spot to sit for a while.

Speaking of sitting for a while, I don't have retreats scheduled any time soon, but I'm looking forward to going fishing tonight with a good friend after work (weather permitting).

12:53 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

LL - I love that I come over here to visit and always find something that causes me to pause and reflect.

You make me realize that I need to resurrect a practice my husband and I allowed to drop. We used to take turns every few months having a Sunday afternoon "off" for a personal retreat of silence. It was a good way to get away without actually going far. But somehow God has been bringing me on a journey without that, it's just a bit slower.

I'll have to keep pondering your words. They're striking at something I'm in need of.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am going to twin rocks next week.
but....not on a retreat.

i am going with the whole 5th grade, and teachers and many other parents to "outdoor school". my husband went years ago with our oldest daughter and now it is my turn to go with our younger.

sleeping in cabins, making kids take showers, checking for bed wetters, getting to meals on time, bon fire, sand play, rotten log study, game time, exercise time, and even the tillimook cheese factory and the city museum. sounds like it should be a hoot!

instead of being able to "draw back" it will be a lesson in pushing forward and out.
the "get up and live" theme that has sprouted up in my life as of late.

i think i might have to squeeze in some daily "mini-retreats" with God to see me through.

Love to you, sweet sister!

3:10 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Well I guess that was one stepping stone in the process of my conversion!

7:12 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I don't know where the ratings came from onto my blog, but I'd like to get rid of them, methinks.

7:13 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Sam... I would love to go. We'll see. None of these particular retreats are going to work for me. I thought your story was delightful, btw.

Michelle... I've always thought it was wonderful that God "rested" from his work. Not that God didn't still need to do the work of sustenance, but creating stopped. Interesting, really, because sometimes we think of creating as play, not work.

Ted... taking a journey nowhere can be very fulfilling, as we begin to see the treasure that is right at our fingertips. Thanks for the book club post; it's marvelous! And about those point things, I saw them on Christianne's blog too. Something new from Blogger? There's got to be a way to shut it off.

Craver... isn't that photo simply heavenly? Makes me want to go there for that view alone. Fishing! You'll have to tell us some new fish stories now. :)

A Musing... in fact, I think I remember you writing about that a while ago. It sounded like a wonderful practice. Maybe soon... ?

Nancy... great visuals! But I feel like I need a nap just thinking about all that. :) Yes, I hope you find some time to yourself, and I hope you actually find all the freshness of the kids and the experience rewarding.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Michelle Van Loon said...

Last summer, just as my life was about to boil over, I told my husband all I wanted for my birthday was a rental car and some gas money so I could have a retreat. (One of my kids needed my car to get back and forth to work.)

God met me on that retreat (I journaled through Leviticus; talk about an unusual way to spend a July 4 holiday) - but it was the 10 hour road trip alone across Iowa that's stayed with me. Hours of driving through a sea of corn fed my soul: I am small. God is big. I am not alone. He is with me.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Funny how God meets you in the strangest places. I took a sick day today just to stay home and be still, to read and to be away from work. I came over to say a quick thank you after reading Chapter 12 of Stone Crossings only to find this interesting post.

I had a major emotional meltdown yesterday. Physically tired, feverish and weary, a nasty student comment about my teaching and some poor teaching scores for what my co-facilitator and I thought went brilliantly well, resulted in semi-public tears and a voice raised enough to make others uncomfotable, perhaps even strident in its frustration and despair with work situations and uncertainty. Chapter 12 was a great turning point this morning in seeing this "threat of loss" as a possible, "doubtful path turned ... [in]to the road to royalty" and the great potential of the “paradoxical Sabbath truth; emptiness, want and discomforting discipline… lead[ing] to fullness.”

Funny to find the post,which I had not yet read, referencing the jolt required to stop one journey and to begin a new one. I suppose there must always be at least a brief moment, if not much more, of emptiness and stillness as one journey ends before the next can begin. Certainly I would consider my last year a spiritual jolt, giving me some new insight into what God is saying to me. Right now it is still in whispers of “something new” rather than discreet words or instructions, but based on this post, that is sufficient for today.

My grateful thanks.

1:53 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Wonderful post brother.
I love your blog.
Keep up the great work.
In Him,
Kinney Mabry

1:55 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...


Every fruitful journey involves keeping the end in mind, at the beginning and throughout the journey.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Thora said...

Ah to hear all these comments of others on journeys or contemplating them.When I held my mother's hand as she died and said goodbye I started a new journey.That was 3 years ago.I left my job,started a new study course,worked in a cafe /gift shop and journeys are happening in my thinking and soul as well.It was a jolt. It is about following what is true.It is ongoing and at times a scarey place to be and out of my comfort zone but I need to keep learning and discovering.I also think it has something to do with my midlife search as well.I am special in God's sight and finally I think I am soaking up this message.Keep going on your journeys.My prayers and love to you all.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Sally Ferguson said...

Interesting, that we don't have to go far to find the getaway we need! The Lord can provide that refreshment in a wilderness or a city!

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this idea of journeying, and you would be MOST WELCOME here in Texas!

3:52 AM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

oh, those jolts! they seem to keep coming.... but always tend to bear much fruit. so i just say a "yes" to this post.....

12:30 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

l.l. - for you, of course! i'd love to share from those journal entries. it seems that was my intent once upon a time ... ;o)

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go to Laity Lodge as a camper. I know what you're talking about when you say its a journey. Its such an amazing place with such amazing messages even if there just in the landscape. I have learned more about god and Jesus from sitting outside by the water then anywhere else in this world. If you know anyone with kids you should recommend this camp, and if they can't afford it the camp often give scholarships as they have for me.
Its just a place where you can save yourself from the emptiness.

8:23 PM  

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