They came from north, south, east, and west. From Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana. From families, from isolation, from margins, from mothering, from grieving, from working, from wilderness, from thresholds, and from dreams of beloved community.
This circle of women who found their way to Avila Retreat Center for the first Wandering Home Retreat brought with them the kind of wisdom, yearning, and openness that can give rise to life-giving community.
Throughout our time together we explored the contours of what it could mean to live into the Body of Christ–a body dis-membered by betrayal and injustice, a body instilled with Divinity, a body that suffered, a body that healed, a body that connected and grieved and danced and dreamed of a better world. We found ways to re-member that Body and our bodies in the ways we were together. We cleared space for everyone to be themselves, we let our bodies tell stories, and we found ways to share power and take risks. We told the truth–hard truth. And we felt the freedom of being seen and heard in a circle of people open to the taste of redemption.
One of the last things we did before our circle dispersed was to celebrate Eucharist–bread, cup, community, and a story of healing, betrayal, friendship, and being nourished. The Spirit’s generosity was palpable. It was a beautiful thing to witness a beloved community gathered around sacred purpose and shared vision. It was a powerful thing to drink in and to ingest the capacity to be transformed by the One who loves us and knows us like no other.
These life-giving, redemptive, nourishing spaces, these moments of gentle and startling truth and connection, are what Christianity is all about for me. The Body of Christ holds and invites such truthful and spacious capacity when we are awake to our entanglement with both its vulnerability and its power.
There are many signs of languishing in our world today and in the Church. And I grieve for all the ways Christianity has been and continues to be used to do harm–through oppression, abuse of power, shaming, blaming, and marginalizing. Those spaces of brutality and diminishment are a part of human life, but they are an offense to Christian life if you ask me. The promise of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and abiding presence are that the diminishing realities of how humans can distort things are not where we find zestful life. Jesus’ path leads us in the direction of our yearning for life, for connection, for truth. This is the yearning that brings us to find ourselves wondering about and wandering toward some better place. And sometimes there is a clearing, a bridge, a threshold that brings us into a space where healing and redemption surface and fill us with a regenerated sense of possibility. Being a Jesus follower calls me toward those spaces where our languishing, our wandering, and our capacity for regeneration find room to breathe and to testify to who we are and who we can be together. I will be forever grateful for the beloved community that gathered in Durham early in March–and for the taste of a home away from home that fed my soul.