It has been quite some time since I have been actively engaged in a faith community. I have been seeking, wrestling, discerning, and waiting, and quite frankly, I have begun to describe myself as feeling hollow.
Not “without the presence of God” hollow, but empty of purpose and connection with my faith practices.
In the past few weeks, however, I’ve recommitted to spending some time each day with spiritual readings/podcasts and prayer. My hope has been that through practice, I will begin to feel something again.
For someone who has been called by the Spirit through both burning bush and still soft voice moments, it can be disheartening to feel neither. To be in a period of knowing the Spirit’s presence but not being “fully engaged” feels like a loss, and I’ve been exploring why.
This past week, my sweetheart and I vacationed in one of our favorite places. We planned the getaway quite some time ago, and I had been waiting (some days not so patiently) for this opportunity to rest, reflect and reconnect–with him, with myself, and with God.
While there, we enjoyed long walks and sitting in the sun, colorful sunsets and cool breezes. What we did not expect, however, was the number of butterflies that would be in full bloom.
Daily, we were surrounded by a particular species, the Gulf fritillary or “Passion Butterfly,” which comes to overwinter in the Lowcountry of SC. They are smaller than the Monarch and have beautiful markings on the underside of their wings.
What I have loved about their presence is how alive they seem to be as they move about this world. They don’t really float or soar, they seem to dance with delight as they flutter from one spot to another. Get two or three together, and you can’t help but feel their joy.
Last week, I realized that that’s how I want to feel about my faith life–active, joyful, and engaged. Instead, I feel like I’m in a cocoon doing a lot of other “work” with the Creator but not really connected to the outer world.
And yet, this work has been important. It’s been a time of waiting, preparation, and discernment. I’ve wrestled and I’ve rested. I’ve listened and I’ve learned. It’s not been comfortable but it has been necessary, and I’ve grown in self-awareness and in my understanding of God’s presence within.
This opportunity has led to a season I’m calling “restoration.” A time of renewing my faith life through engaged contemplative practices and reviving my desire to be in ministry and in community with others.
Starting November 3, my dear friend, Merit, and I will hosting a time for others who are interested in this same kind of sabbath–a quiet time of liturgy, prayer, and fellowship. We are calling it Restoration for several reasons but primarily as a way to renew our spirits and revive spiritual practices that center our souls.
This is a simple gathering designed to feed our spirit while preparing us for serving in the world. Rather than focusing on “telling” we will be focusing on “engaging”–the primary purpose of the gathering is not listening to any one person proclaim the word or a message, rather the group of us will be actively involved in spiritual formation through liturgy, prayer, and the eucharist.
Merit and I have chosen to facilitate this weekly gathering after studying The Eternal Current by Aaron Niequist. What connected us to this book was Niequist’s desire to rediscover the impact that contemplative prayer practices can have on our daily lives and our relationship with God. His honesty, humility and authenticity about his journey have inspired Merit and me to move beyond our Friday morning time of connection and create community with others seeking the same.
So some quick FAQs about us and about Restoration:
- Merit and I join as sisters in faith with religious/spiritual education and experiences to plan and facilitate, not drive, this gathering
- While we are both United Methodists, we are not leading this gathering in connection to any particular church, denomination or faith tradition; the information and practices will primarily be Christian but also integrate other elements that deepen our awareness of the Holy Spirit and prayer. Weekly, we will include Biblical scripture and other writings, liturgy, contemplative prayer practices and the eucharist as a part of our time together.
- We don’t liken this time to “church” which is why we are calling it a “gathering.” We will join together around a table as a way to be “in the round” and see each other as we connect.
- All are welcome to be a part of this gathering. We believe and uphold that all people have sacred worth in the eyes of God, and we want to create a safe and comfortable space for spiritual formation.
Our hope for this gathering is that it becomes a place of restoration for those desiring to reconnect with the Creator through quiet, intentional practices. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to email me at Cameron@GrowingGraceFarm.com or via the Contact page on this website.