Resting in Jesus: A Deeper Walk Retreat, Baguio City, Philippines, 2019
After months of rain, fair weather graced the skies of Baguio City last September 13-15, 2019 in time for the Odyssey in Christ (OIC) retreat held at Pine Breeze Cottages. The founder and director of OIC, Dr. Larry Hinkle, together with Auey and Justine Parcasio facilitated the retreat. There were 18 participants in attendance for the retreat with the theme ‘Resting in Jesus: What it Means to “Abide in Me”’. The retreat served to help the members gain an experiential understanding of what it means to truly rest in Jesus.
The retreat commenced after dinner with an introduction to the focus of the retreat. We highlight Christian spirituality as a journey towards our union with God. As well as John 15:5, 9 emphasizing that Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches; and that we are to remain, abide, dwell, and live in His love. We practiced two spiritual disciplines namely, lectio divina, and we ended the night with silence and solitude as we went to our rooms.
The second day started with breaking the fast together, as well as breaking the silence after practicing the night’s spiritual discipline of sleep. We had the whole day for heart-moving, spirit-satiating, interactive discussions. After a discussion and reflection on who Jesus is to us, and what is our relationship with Jesus, we had the safe place prayer where we invited Jesus to be with us in our ‘safe place’. The retreat highlights silence and stillness as essentials in discerning the presence, love, and the movement of God. God is everywhere to be found, discerned and discovered. We were taught the prayer of the three 3Rs that involves resting or taking a position of comfort where we rest in God’s presence. Then we allow ourselves to receive God’s love. Finally, we respond to God’s rest, His love, and Him speaking to us through His rest and love. We also learned about ‘breath prayers’ where many of us have unconsciously been doing it at many times of the day. Breath prayers are prayers said in harmony with our breathing.
We had discussions on the labyrinth as a metaphor of life’s journey. We distinguished a labyrinth from a maze. A maze is a puzzle to be solved, and a labyrinth has only one path – the way in is also the way out. As a metaphor, the labyrinth is a journey to the center of our deepest self, and we go back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who we are. For some of us, as we journeyed to the center of the labyrinth, it started to bring out emotions or hurtful experiences that we had sequestered. Our experience at the center and journey out was the beginning of healing.
We talked about God’s Sabbath rhythm as a reflection of the rhythm that undergirds all creation. The Sabbath is a reminder for us to stop and notice our limits so that we won’t burn out. Through this, God reminds us who and what work is for, and what matters most. Personally, I would admit that I have been conforming to the secular rhythm of working until I can file for a vacation as a breath of fresh air from work. Learning about the Sabbath rhythm, and keeping it as a core spiritual discipline will remind us of God’s grace and goodness in our lives by providing a spiritual way to slow down and have a meaningful connection with God, ourselves, and those we care about.
Spiritual discernment requires us to be aware of the presence of God at work in any part of our everyday lives. We went on a thirty-minute walk being open to anything that God created that stood out to us. Upon finding it, we took careful notice of what it was, and to take a long look at the ‘realness’ of it, listening to what God was trying to reveal to us through that object. We had a sharing after that. I liked the analogy that Pastor Martin Estong said that what stood out to him was the vine clinging to the tree trunk, where the vine needed to cling to the trunk for support and for its sustenance. Similarly, God is the tree trunk, and we are vine, where we need to cling or rely on God for support and for our daily sustenance.
Many of us have believed the lies that people say about us. Some of us have turned those lies into our reality which has affected the way we think or view ourselves. Some of us have live with shame, and low self-esteem, and self-doubt because of that. Our discussion of who we are, or our identity in Jesus was very assuring for many of us. We surrendered these paralyzing lies to God, believing that we have innate worth and value because we are created in the image of God.
We ended the second day with a discussion and a demonstration of transforming prayer. Transforming prayer is a way of giving spiritual care to those who need healing by providing ongoing transformation in their lives by encountering Jesus in their safe place. Dr. Hinkle emphasized that this is not a “special formula” for those in need of healing. This prayer is for those in need of “internal” healing. This is for those with dysfunctional behaviors and emotional struggles that are directly associated with unprocessed wounds or hurt from the past. This involves the provision of restoration to wholeness in all levels of human concern.
The third day started with the sacrament of the present moment. This emphasizes on God being always present to us and that we can only live in the kingdom today. We are to live in the present because worrying about tomorrow is a useless distraction. The final part of the retreat consists of an overall recap of the retreat, and a simple body prayer reminding us of God being all around us. Dr. Larry, Auey and Justine blessed, prayed for, and anointed oil on all of the participants before the partaking of the communion which marked the end of the retreat.
Overall, the retreat was a very refreshing experience. We learned what it meant to truly find rest in Jesus. We had an intimate connection with Jesus realizing that He is always beside us, and not just when we invite Him to be with us in prayer, or in our safe place. Through this retreat, we learned how to experience God’s presence in deeper ways. We came out refreshed, well-rested, and excited for another Sabbath rhythm.
-Kae Anne Ruth N. Domoguen