Spirited Women: A Women's Retreat

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Only days ago, I returned from a women's retreat titled Spirited Women. Mount Zion Lutheran Church in Waterloo hosts the off-site retreat for women and has done so for many years. Most of those retreats were held at Camp Edgewood, the Lutheran church camp in Eden Mills, Ontario. As that camp closes a history of summer camp, retreats and other events, the committee selected a new location for our 2016 get-away. We enjoyed the facility so much that Hidden Acres has become our place of choice for another year and booked again for 2018. Thank you to our retreat committee who helps make these events possible. This was the 31st annual event by the host church and one of many that I have attended and benefitted so much from.


Our morning session began with worship under the direction of Anne Anderson, our spiritual director and teacher for the weekend retreat.

Pastor Anne introduced the theme Spirited Women. Mary, Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56) ) and Lydia (Acts 16:11-15), from the Bible, would be our focus.

Anne introduced the concept of lecto divina, reading the same passage several times and reflecting on different questions each time. Starting with Mary and Elizabeth, Pastor Anne asked what words jumped out at us, what stories or memories does this passage stir in us? And what scares, confuses or challenges you?

On the last reading, the question was: What delights you in this passage and gives you hope?

As we discussed these questions among ourselves, what it might have meant to Elizabeth and Mary about their new circumstances, becoming the mother of Jesus and John the Baptist, we couln't imagine what challenges they'd face beyond what we knew of the biblical story and the expectations of women at that time in history in that place.

As we talked about the relationship between these two women, we also discussed what older women bring to relationships and the same for younger women, including cross-generational friendships. We shared who had been special in our lives, who had mentored us, offered friendship and wisdom.

After our morning session, we had opportunity to go outdoors where the sun shone. It was a bit cool, but we were prepared. Pastor Anne invited us to consider our relationship with and appreciation of nature around us. Several of us had brought our cameras, ready to capture the weekend in pictures.

DSCF0943.JPG Another of the main buildings, all well kept

DSCF0948.JPGA new dock?

DSCF0947.JPGGinny and I walked around the lake and chatted. Some sat at picnic benches, or like Pam, just soaked up the sun in the life guard tower by the lake.

DSCF0955.JPG Ginny and I met up with Nancy and Donna sitting and enjoying the sun, then sat and chatted too.

DSCF0956.JPGI brought my boots too but left them in the car. Diana and Pat needed theirs for a walk into the woods beyond the lake. I heard that they found a red trillium.

DSCF0961.JPGA walk beyond the camp buildings, these two with their matching raincoats.

DSCF0962.JPGWe wondered who built this hill. Is it a snow boarding or ski jump?

DSCF0964.JPGRefreshed after the morning session and time outdoors, we gathered for our lunch.

DSCF0965 (2).JPG

In the afternoon we continued our session, discussing rituals in greeting or blessing, where we get our usual picture of young Mary, and what gifts the younger generation of women bring. We listened to the song of Mary, sang it in worship too and talked about the poetry of her song, the parallel structure that added to what we had already read. As a writer of poetry, I found that reflection of great interest.

I recalled my relationship with my husband's aunt in Indiana, a woman I met for the first time in my adult years and how that relationship strengthened over time.

As a part of this retreat, we have a craft session and every year, whoever leads it, puts great thought into it and much preparation. Helen said that the title of spirited women challenged her and reminded her of aboriginal women who are so in tune with nature. Thus we were to make a dream catcher, a challenge to us who'd never created one though we often see them around us.


Our first task was to wrap a metal ring with jute.

DSCF0969.JPGthen create the inner structure of the catcher

DSCF0970.JPGselect our beads and feathers and strips of leather for decoration

DSCF0972.JPGMonica also wrapped her circle in leather, which made a lovely effect

DSCF0975.JPGDoris was well on her way to completing her dream catcher at this point

DSCF0977.JPGa flurry of feathers... and many colours to choose from

Likely aboriginal women would only use feathers left behind by native birds

DSCF0979.JPGWe hung our dream catchers in the windows and glass of the doors where the light shone in. We had so many dream catchers and all were different from each other, reflecting the work of each woman at the event.

DSCF0985.JPGOur den mother, Carol, at our Saturay evening traditional game of Pictionary. Team 2 won this time after a great challenge, but they weren't far ahead, only two points.

DSCF0986.JPGDoris, drawing what her word looked like

After the game, we tidied up the snack dishes and the breakfast group set out dishes and containers for the next morning. We're on our own for breakfast at retreat and we tidy our own dishes afterwards.

DSCF0994.JPGThe breakfast conversation where we got to know each other better

DSCF0995.JPG In our last session we talked about Lydia, the woman in Acts who dealt in the purple cloth. As our leader read, we were asked to think about the location, time and place in the reading. In further reflection we were asked to consider how it might be for a woman in that time and place to run her own business. We also learned that the river, or another source of water, was often a gathering place for women. We further reflected on Lydia's welcoming of Paul and his followers.

In the coming days, we have many discussions to ponder from our retreat as well as our connection with other women who attended. It was a fruitful and relaxing retreat, a time away from our busy lives. Thank you to all who made it possible.

DSCF0999.JPGA photo I took of the group. There'll be another one somewhere with me present.

DSCF1005.JPGMy dream catcher

After our photo and lunch, we had one closing session and our worship. Many hugs and we were on our way home.

DSCF1009.JPGOur den mother, Carol, with Pastor Anne, pastor at Third Space, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.

Thank you, Anne.