I arrived Friday night. It was the perfect opportunity to relax, meet the retreat presenter, and mingle with seminary friends. Between the fellowship and worship time together the tone was set for the rich sense of community that permeated our retreat.We talked about doubt, "a subtle weapon in the hands of the evil one," and about woundedness—how it perpetuates a sense of being unloved and unworthy of love. These are not subjects that one would ordinarily call “awesome” and yet, for me, it was. The pace, time for reflection, and sharing worked together to create a spiritually enriching experience.
By understanding more about icons as holy writings that were created by people who have fasted, prayed, and felt directed by God to create them, I was open to using them in prayer to access deeper meaning and message. And through a prayerful “reading” an icon of Jesus rising from the tomb I experienced a powerful sense of God's loving presence and gained insights that were a godsend:
- Doubt is a weapon which can be counteracted by recognizing the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice and love for us.
- We are all wounded, often unintentionally, by the circumstances of our life journey and our relationships. It can be difficult to identify the source of that wounding and its impact on our life. However, there is no question that it molds and shapes our attitudes and behaviors.
- I have unwittingly contributed to the wounding of others. By acknowledging and accepting that fact, I can extend compassion, forgiveness, and love toward others. I'm also free to extend those same graces to myself, and this way I participate in aiding my own healing process and perhaps the healing of others as well.
- An important benefit to identifying my own woundedness is that it enables me to let go of blame and bitterness toward those who have wounded me and frees me to be more receptive to love and free to give love. I am more able to obey Jesus.
I have come to love the opportunity to be part of the annual retreat experience built into each program at Northeastern Seminary. What a blessing.
Angela Richardson (MATSJ) is an associate minister at New Bethel CME Church in Rochester, N.Y.