The Spirit works in wondrous ways!
I try to avoid cliches, but hard to do in this situation. I was invited to be the key note speaker at Clearwater Forest’s 2015 summer Crysalis retreat, and it was the amazing experience I had imaged it would be. (I fully recommend this retreat/adult camp for any woman out there! We had multiple generations, sisters/cousins, friends and individuals who came on their own. I plan to return! They also have a winter retreat.)
Women, God, stories, nature, coffee, amazing food, crafts, walks, water, stories, free time, classes, singing, comfortable beds, and massages! Not to mention optional quilting for the expert and novice. And in the midst of all this, I was blessed to provide ways to unleash the Holy Spirit in their lives. Even as an introvert who is not typically seen as an evangelist, it was wonderful to “evangelize” in a way that worked for me…sharing my stories and the stories of others, while including practical steps people an take to deepen their faith lives.
As a person who is very tactile and learns by experience, I set up four prayer stations around Clearwater for the participants to reflect on the Holy Spirit. I hope that if you are in ministry, you may be inspired by these too!
Taking advantage of our amazing location in the Northwoods of Minnesota, I chose the nature themes of water, air, earth and fire. Each theme provided many connections within the Scriptures, and in the planning stage, I imagined each station to be situated in a corresponding setting. I did my best to use items I had around the house, only needing to purchase a blanket and bowl for the Fire station from a thrift store.
The Holy Spirit – Water
Located on the porch of Eagle Lodge, this prayer station looked out onto Clearwater Lake. The lighting was perfect for prayer, but not so for taking pictures. I included a few different fabric textures, including the literal wave fabric and a scarf flowing like water. Shells and drift wood collected from various water environments wade in the “stream” and cattails cut on my drive up stand behind the tables. To the right of my daughter’s baptismal picture is a cross rusted from Kansas rain. For each, I included an image of a woman immersed in the station’s theme – an appropriate subject for a women’s retreat. Each station also had 6 scripture or related quotes, and an interactive method of prayer. For water, I offered a Buddha Board to write or draw a prayer on, letting it be released to the Spirit as it disappeared.
Holy Spirit – Air
When I arrived at Clearwater Forest it was cool, rainy and windy. I found a protected spot on the lower level patio of Leaning Tree Lodge, for this station. As air is obviously difficult to capture, I kept this station uncluttered. While simple, I layered lace, tulle and a white fabric cut out of a dove to set the stage. The cross, a seminary graduation gift from my in-laws, caught and reflected the light. Participants often felt a breeze as they sat here, requiring the addition of a rock to hold down the fabric! The interactive prayer option for this station was cutting pieces of green ribbon and tying them to a dead branch (sorry, no picture) located about 15 feet away. Each ribbon signified a prayer or prayers, and together they completed an image of a tree coming to life in Spring as the ribbons blew in the wind.
Holy Spirit – Fire
Optimally I would have located this station near one of the numerous fire pits, but the weather led me to position it on the other end of the Leaning Tree patio from the Air station. It did overlook one of the main fire pits, which was frequently used by the small groups. The gold chains, “diamond” and metal cross (a gift from my brother-in-law), signified the refining nature of God (Psalm 66), while the scarf was my best representation of the flowing nature of fire (a craft option at the retreat). The interactive prayer was to write their prayer and burn it, letting the thoughts raise up to God as an offering. One woman commented that her prayer was burned into the shape of a heart! Upon cleaning up, I offered the ashes to God by washing the bowl in the lake.
Holy Spirit – Earth
Tucked in a corner of the Peace Garden is this small pergola, which amazingly kept dry in the rain. Using burlap from a coffee shop’s coffee bag and a rag rug from a family farm, I used smoothed rocks from Lake Superior as well as ones with etched words such as ‘Breathe’, ‘Always’, and ‘Harmony’. Included is a simple cross and a carved stone Mary & Jesus I had purchased at a fair trade sale. While I had added a pine branch, acorns and birch bark, others added their own small natural treasures as the weekend progressed. In honor of our earliest faith ancestors, the interactive prayer option here was to place rocks in a common pile, marking our joys and concerns.
I have been blessed by the wonderful experiences women had at these stations, providing them some quiet moments of individualized prayer and reflection. I hope that they may inspire you also!
Clearwater Forest is available for private functions, to check out the facilities, as well as all the camps and other events they offer (their Grandparents’ Camp books up quickly!), click here.