A Tale with a story to tell …

Just say yes. To adventure to new beginnings, to fresh offerings…all of it .

Loosen the silk straps of knowing what comes next, and flow into the unpredictability of tomorrow ..today . Where will it take you, if you just open your hands, palms up, fingers gently spread , and welcome the sunset that is a shade of pink lemonade like you have never seen.

It takes pause, and being intentional, and facing the horizon hoping there will be a supernatural glow that will fill up your senses, and overwhelm your heart . As you observe, it just keeps getting better and more exquisite. The orange glow of fire as it sets behind the mountains draws you in and you face it, expecting more. You are not disappointed . It cannot get better..and yet it does .

Somewhere the sky meets the water and there is a magical dance of color and reflection that sets off the breathtaking awe of the moment

Taking it in, and pondering the history of a place, who has walked before you, what have they seen and witnessed and understood.

It is a setting. If you have viewed the movie, ” Life of Pi,” the first photo with the boats reminded me of it . I liked the movie .

“I love the kindness of this encouragement. Keep putting into practice. It’s not about perfection ; it’s not about being amazing. God is nowhere in the pressure to be amazing. He’s waiting in the simple dailies. Just keep putting into practice the things that heal your soul and bring you more of Jesus. Then the God of peace will be with you. You’ll no longer be sipping God from teaspoons; you’ll learn to drink deeply from the tangible, nourishing, life giving presence of the eternal God -Father, son and Holy Spirit -the fountain of living waters.” (John Eldridge)

“May the son of God who is already formed in you , grow in you, so that he will become immeasurable , and that in you he will become laughter, exultation, the fullness of joy which no one can take from you.” ( Isaac of Stella)

Just pondering it all. The moments of connection and sharing of intimate desires of life stories this past week with 20 women. It doesn’t seem possible for this to occur, and yet it did in such a soul searching, life giving original and organic way .

We sat together, gathering as stones on the beach washed ashore and smoothed by the Adriatic Sea on the Croatian shore. We are many shapes, and sizes, and cool calm when water washes over us, but becoming warm as we bask in the hot May sunshine of Spring into summer .

It was a Womens’ Retreat, and the second of its kind that I have attended. Some women I knew from last years’ trip to Greece, but most were new waiting to be friends. I would not be disappointed. If Act 2 of Retreats could be better, it was , and I’m feeling gratified.

Our stories drew us together with intangible and magnetic ways . Shared experiences of losses of children, sexual abuse, divorce, death of spouses, rapes and abortions, mental health challenges, and physical ailments. We were and are a plethora of challenges, and yet in that place we are drawn together by our mutual love of Jesus Christ. This is a sacred space that we hold tightly to one another. As we sit and pray together, eat together, and have one another as room mates, there is intimacy in our pain sharing, and listening to the things that break our hearts, and what makes each individual woman, the unique she …that she is.

There was laughter, such bubbling out giggles, and hysterical belly holding, side aching bursting forth enjoyment between one another. There is something that happens when we laugh together. It is a release, and spilling out that creates a calm afterwards that no pill can deliver .

Our tears, and hand holding and hugging of a sister/friend who is in the deep mire of despair, is heard. You are heard . You are valued. You matter . You are held . Your story matters. We are in it together .

The beautiful scenery and walks along the castle wall in Dubrovnik, Croatia were highlights, as the tour and dinner shared in the middle of an olive grove were quite literally an other world experience. Our guide/owner in the olive grove spoke with pride over all of his trees, and the care and art of shaking the branches by hand, and gathering the precious fruit was an act of love and care . His oil gave him the honor of a gold ribbon above the producers of Italy and Spain who are the world leaders in olive oil production.

He and his family set a table for us 20 in the center of the grove, complete with china dishes, silverware, glass goblets for wine, red and white checkered gingham cloth tablecloth, chacuterie boards to excite the taste buds, created a culmination of family and cousins’ giftings for our palette. This family worked together to deliver a table filled with delicacies, that were seasoned with joy.

It was twilight. The air was cool, and the scent of being there in that place was something I can’t even describe. Being seated in the outdoors and eating al fresco, tasting olive oil with homemade bread, cured meats, prosciutto, salami, four day young cow cheese, and philo-crust crust pizza with cream cheese, tomatoes, peppers and olives was a delectable symphony to all of the senses. This was a family run operation, and the family all took part in serving us out there. Look what can happen when we all work together.

Learning from taxi drivers and locals about Croatia, and their family experiences doing life was a gift .

Dining together overlooking the Adriatic.. pinch me.. bucket list gift

Engage the senses. We were reminded to do this by our group leaders, Laura, and Michelle, who brought so much to us, of biblical spiritual teaching, personal stories, adventures and experiences, games, fitness , and so much more . This duo behind the scenes had to change up our plans multiple times because of the heavy rainfall that lasted for days when we first arrived in Split, Croatia. Their abilities to change gears, and roll with the weather made the rest of us confident, and trusting of what each new day would bring. They brought it.

The adventures, food delicacies , wine tastings, Kegel Olympic game challenges ( we are middle aged women after all), inadvertent dance parties that broke out , synchronized swimming demonstrations, hikes, and ATV rides, and lest I forget to mention the few ..the proud.. the gutsy women who went canyoning in wetsuits for 6 hours in slightly harrowing conditions, but each cheered the other on to victory, because this is what women friends do for one another.

That also was a very lengthy run on sentence come to find out.

We are changed for many reasons, but during this retreat we met new friends that we can now venture forward and do life with , and that is the icing on the cake, the cherry on the hot fudge sundae, the peanut butter and jelly, the perfect cappuccino, the luxurious glass of wine, bread dipped in olive oil, beach and ocean sunset view that is the crescendo to the now .

Turns out it’s always been about finding your people, and community , and shared life experiences. This makes life so much better .

Take in the view…and reach for friends of old and friends anew..

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