Hello everyone! Helen here. I'm going to share some pictures that I took at Powell House last weekend throughout this post to break up the words.
This past weekend, Anna and I attended a retreat at Powell House led by Christopher Sammond titled "Trusting in the slow work of God." One of the perks of being a Young Friends in Residence is that we are able to attend Powell House retreats for free. I'm really grateful for this, as I would not otherwise be able to afford to go. I've been to two already, and I hope to be able to do more. Anyway, I was struck this weekend with how open the group was to sharing personal stories and revelations with such a large group (more than forty, some had to stay in the ACC). One of my favorite activities was creating a life map of spiritual, vocational, emotional, and otherwise important life events. It was interesting to see the variety of ways in which people chose to map their lives, and incredibly powerful to hear about people's revelations and observations about the process. It came to me that "trusting in the slow work of God" means not just believing that God will be at work in my life, but realizing that God always has been at work.
The topic of "Trusting in Slow Work" has brought to mind something that was said two weekends ago when YFIR presented at Farmington-Scipio winter gathering: that Young Friends in Residence has been an exercise in trust. The pilot program started a year and a half ago based on a dream of what it could be, and without the funding to complete a full two years. Since then the program has grown in unforeseen ways, thanks largely to the trust that individuals and groups have put in the interns and the committees that support us. Thanks to Farmington-Scipio, we now have the funds to continue until the end of August 2011.
Another aspect of trust has been on my mind recently. At our last retreat, we had three new attenders. As one mother was dropping off her daughter, an eleven year old who was not Quaker, and did not know any of the youth at the retreat, it struck me: this woman is putting so much trust in me right now, to care for her daughter for a whole weekend. And I know that, when I was eleven, you couldn't have paid me to spend a weekend without anyone I knew in a strange place with new people all talking about a religion I had barely any knowledge of. But here they were. And by the time her mother came to pick her up at the end of the weekend, the girl was telling her that she wished the retreat were a whole week long.
One last trust topic: sourdough. This fall I became interested in sourdough, a process by which (ideally), you can bake using only the yeast that occurs naturally in the air. I'd neglected my sourdough starter for a while, so yesterday I took it out and tried to make bread. When baking, you trust that all of the elements will come together to make what you're trying to make, or at least something edible. I don't fully understand sourdough, but I have to trust that the bread will rise even if I don't understand why. Unfortunately, yesterday, I was cooking on the stove top while the bread was in the oven, and somehow accidentally turned the oven off part way through. The result was a dense, doughy, but still delicious bread that we ate with grape lavender jam from our CSA. I guess I'll try again today. If you want to learn more about sourdough, check out this site.