Winter Retreat and Reflections on "Home"

This last week was so BEAUTIFUL! My community and I left on Wednesday for La Porte, Indiana for the Echo Winter Retreat. It was so wonderful to be back with all my friends from this summer and our wonderful and fearless leaders: Colleen, Luke, and Aimee. The theme of the retreat was “The Wounded Healer,” and we had some very helpful and wonderful reflections. It was definitely fruitful to meditate on my own wounds and to reflect on how those wounds, both the healed and the still open (and sometimes festering) affect those around me.

I’m not sure which was the most important thing for me, the retreat itself or the time spent with my wonderful friends. I got to talk to Sarah, my roommate from the summer who is so talented at keeping me grounded and whom I can always be real with without fear! I got to hug Patrick Hagan, whose hugs cure everything (seriously)! I spent time talking with several other dear friends and I wish they weren’t so far away. I wish I had more time to talk with them and I know I didn’t talk with everyone that I wanted to.

It’s funny how God plans things so well. At the BCC the weekend before I left, we did a reflection on the idea of “home.” Lately instead of Rolla, I’ve come to think of home as Dallas (or, more accurately, Irving). That’s not an insult to my parents or my family and friends in Rolla, but just an acknowledgement that I’m growing up and making my own way for myself—I have no intention of losing those roots (or those precious people) in Rolla. My students reflected that home was either their parents’ house or a place where the people they love are—that home is really people and not a place. While I agreed that when I think of home, if it’s not my parents, it is the Ponikiewski/Parent family or my friends at UD that I imagine and not really a physical place, I’m not sure I completely understood home as people until this weekend. But being at our Winter Retreat, surrounded by so much LOVE, I felt so at home and so at peace. I think I was a little surprised to realize that Echo is home, that these people are my home in a very real and tangible way, even though I’ve only been part of them for eight months. But these relationships really were forged by fire as we survived Summer session together and then built our communities, and I feel secure here.

Now, I’m a little sad to be back in Indy, even though I’m looking forward to seeing my freshmen girls tomorrow at Women’s Ministry. There’s so much to do, so much to catch up on. I’m just glad to have had such beautiful days with such beautiful people these last few days on retreat. Now, I have to come down the mountain and deal with life in the valley—which is proving to be more difficult than I thought. Pray for me!

The whole family-- Photo by John the caterer, courtesy of Annie Harton