Reflection from the Advent Retreat

posted Dec 30, 2013, 10:10 PM by Terry Brady
The St. Margaret's Retreat Ministry has had a tradition of creating an advent wreath from objects found over the course of the weekend in Rehoboth Beach.  One of this year's retreat participants shared the following reflection and asked that it be shared anonymously.  The theme of this year's retreat was The Lord's Supper.

Experiences of Our Rehoboth Retreat-Fashioned Nature Wreath  
(December 2013 St. Margaret’s Retreat)

Hearty stalks of bulrushes fashioned by a retreatee (who reveled in the stalks’ robustness) into an exotic, theological symbol –-
the resilience of nature inspiring us to rebound?
a staff of our spiritual life?

Bulrushes crossed over by piddle-ly sticks altering the symbol --
theological transformation?
crosses not made to avoid deforming our Nature Wreath’s inclusive circle?

Grand broad leaves placed by an admirer who felt the leaves had more to say, nature strutting her stuff, festooned with rare shells by another nature lover --
a chance for leaves to grace the world via our Nature Wreath?
an alternative view of dry leaves once thought prosaic?

A sturdy shell, clunky but broken, placed by an advocate of the shell’s beauty in its brokenness --
pilgrims searching for wholeness?
the beauty of imperfection?

A tuft of seaweed reposing askew and unheralded amongst pine cones, leaves and shells -- 
random acts or thoughts unknown but felt?
a soft but supportive clump?

A burst-of-pine-needles star trickling small yellow stone star beams whose fashioner spoke of hope –-
different meanings for different Wreath-Fashioners? 
a star went before them? 

We shared communion around the green blanket of treasures --
diversity circling our Nature Wreath. 

As I gazed at the shells in the Wreath, I remembered how on the beach last week my daughter had filled grooves of sand with white shells that she and I gathered to fashion a message she made for a friend, delivered via a picture of the sand design printed out at CVS. Our night on the beach was our best time of communication.

I mused through memories of past times collecting countless shells with my daughter on Mediterranean and Floridean beaches to fashion bracelets and fill bowls.

But back to Rehoboth.
We took away from our Advent Retreat visions of our Nature Wreath, memories of meals past and present whether of processed food from a box or fresh products off a chopping block, memories of feelings about the ultimate meal of communion, thoughts arising from walks on the sharp-wind beach or from gazes at a fire’s flames licking logs, memories of sitting in our circle admiring the Nature Wreath and sharing prayers said and unsaid. 

Not Walden Ponders but nevertheless a community brought closer in the sands, and now reluctantly returning to the streets.