Last weekend Fr. Kenny and I attended a Transitioning Clergy retreat at Little Portion Friary (a Franciscan community in Mt. Sinai, NY here is their website). The Transitioning Clergy group here in Long Island is called other things in other Dioceses, like Fresh Start, or Head Start, but what it is is a group of new clergy that meet monthly for the first year to learn about the Diocese and ministry. When I say new, I don’t mean only the newly ordained like me, but also people new to the Diocese. So our group is quite diverse. Some of us are brand new, some have been priests for many years, and some are new to the Episcopal Church. It is a great way to bounce ideas off each other. I especially like to gain insight and wisdom from the more experienced members of the group. I have enjoyed all of our get togethers and I will miss them.
Anyway, we had an overnight retreat with the Bishop at the Friary, and it was a great time.
One of the great things at Little Portion (besides the awesome bread they sell, and the incredibly kind and hospitable brothers) is the labyrinth! They have a great labyrinth on the grounds.
Now, contrary to popular thought, and an awesome 80s movie starring David Bowie, labyrinths are NOT mazes. Mazes tend to be a test of some sort and have dead ends or traps in them. You often make wrong turns in mazes and can end up lost in them (like people do every October in those corn mazes). Labyrinths on the other hand, have no dead ends. They only have twists and turns. This way, the labyrinth represents our spiritual/life journey. Life has twists and turns, but no dead ends, you keep going, working through those turns until you reach the center.
Many people walk in large labyrinths (like at Little Portion) to meditate on their own spiritual journey. There are also smaller ones that can be traced with your finger, or a small stylus, kind of like when people have a zen rock garden on their desk. My friend, Mother Kim, has a labyrinth tattoo on her foot, and she has kindly allowed me to post the picture here:
I love this tattoo, I know Mo. Kim does too, and I’m sure it reminds her of her spiritual journey in life thus far, and her future journey as well.
So the retreat was great, and I had fun (even though I had a hard time sleeping). I will miss hanging out with all my “transitioning” friends after our year of meetings is over. Here are some more pictures from the weekend. Stay tuned for more sermons and adventures!