Wishing you a Blessed 2016
Now is traditionally the time to look back and to assess the last year; and to look forward and to vision the new year ... This newsletter looks back as I haven't had time to look forward yet! We had a few formal retreats: our annual Holy Week Easter Retreat and Healing Retreat. We also hosted a retreat for Anglican priests which was conducted by our Anglican priest in Plett, and several Catholic priests came on retreat / holiday. Mostly it was a year for people coming on self-retreat, some of whom stayed for several months (greetings to Zandile, Ronel, and Charmaine, I pray it goes well with you!)
As chairlady of Contemplative Outreach in the Western Cape, I assisted with a Centering Prayer Meditation Workshop and Retreat in Plettenberg Bay in August; and co-presented a Centering Prayer Meditation Workshop in George in September. We also had a Renewal day in Knysna in March. If your area wishes to learn about Centering Prayer, please do invite us to come and do a workshop in your area!
My work and service at St Christopher's Catholic Church keeps me busy. In August, I was commissioned as (extra-ordinary) Minister of Holy Communion, and in November I attended a workshop for Ministers of Holy Communion in (hellishly hot!) Dysselsdorp (not a place I would recommend!) I also attended the annual Jesuit Society Theology course in Port Elizabeth, and a Music in the Liturgy Workshop in Knysna.
For my own personal spiritual growth, I benefited greatly by participating in various programs organised by the Community Church, namely: People's Puzzle Workshop (how to understand people so you can be a blessing to them); a weekend ladies retreat 'Woman be Loosed' (from your bondage so you can rise up as a mighty warrior!); and an Ancient Paths Seminar (understanding God's ancient paths of blessing) which impacted me greatly. The annual Woman's Workshop 'What's in your Rugsack?' conducted by the Methodist Church in August was also very inspiring.
I am blessed to be part of several Bible study / fellowship groups, and to host a Centering Prayer and Bible study group at our Retreat Center. When I look back, I can't believe so much happened this last year! I wish to thank those special people in my life who are such a special part of my life - your presence and friendship adds immeasurable richness beauty and love for which I am ever grateful.
But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
This was not an easy year, and there were many challenges and problems (I suppose that is true for nearly every year!) I am grateful for the Grace of God which carried me when I was feeling weak / hurt / vulnerable. I remember one conflicting and stressful situation, when I knew I could not do it on my own, and God's Grace stepped in so powerfully and tangibly. Then after the situation was over, and I emerged shaken but still standing, God literally rained his blessing upon me. I will never forget this, as there was not a cloud in the sky, and yet a very fine mist like rain was falling on me that made my skin wet, but the source of the water was nowhere to be seen. For me this was an experience of something supernatural. I am grateful that perseverance kept me in situations that sometimes tested me to the core of my being, and that it paid off in the end and relationships were strengthened. Sometimes there has to be a testing to see if you have what it takes; to see if love can suffer and endure and triumph and emerge victorious. I feel so happy to say YES! Never give up; never loose heart; never close your heart; and trust God to work all things for good.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory forever and ever Amen. (Ephesians 3:20)
Some other incidents that come to mind, are times that I prayed to God for answers how to respond in certain situations. Once I opened my Bible on a commentary that exactly applied to my situation and gave an answer what to do, and referred to a particular verse. However, I didn't like the answer as it was not an easy one, like the instructions to love your enemies and bless those who curse you! So I closed the Bible and opened it again, wanting to receive another easier answer! That particular Bible (Amplified version with Joyce Meyer commentary) has over 2000 pages. I opened it on the exact verse referred to in the commentary to re-inforce my first answer! Although I didn't like the advice or find it easy to follow, I was amazed at how directly God speaks to you through His Word.
Another time, I didn't know what to do, and I prayed to God for help. I went downstairs to make a cup of tea (an essential part of any solution!) and while waiting for the kettle to boil, a Bible verse was given to me by the Holy Spirit: James x:x. Cup of tea in hand, I went and opened my Bible and was once again amazed that the verse that came into my mind was exactly applicable. God listens to our prayers and He answers them! Maybe not by changing the situation, but by telling us how to deal with it and by giving us the strength to do what must be done. I am learning to trust that it is possible to communicate with God, and I am learning to trust my ability to hear God speak to me, and this is incredible! I share these few snippets with you to give you confidence that God is not distant, but intimately involved in the details of our lives. He listens, He cares, and His Holy Spirit counsels us. Pray for his help and guidance and He will give it!
WISHING YOU AN ABUNDANCE OF GOD'S BLESSINGS IN 2016! Love Leela