I had two one-hour sessions with Billie planned to bookend my retreat: meet with Billie, spend several hours on my own, meet with Billie, spend more time if necessary, then go home. Billie is a great listener, and as I told my stories to her and we talked, I processed recent events/issues and received new things to consider. On the drive to the retreat, I remembered the many pictures Billie had cut from magazines to use in collages, and I wanted to look at more pictures. Otherwise, I had absoutely no idea or plan for what to do, other than walk around and enjoy God and his creation. It's taken me 40+ years to learn that often not having an agenda is the best way.
After settling in and a good talk with Billie, I walked down to the creek. I hadn't taken that walk before, and I was delighted by the beauty surrounding me.
I didn't get any pictures of the creek. I don't know why.
As I walked, I opened myself to God and listened for, waited to receive whatever he may have had for me at that time. I was caught up in looking at everything except the ground, and I stepped on a tree limb and lost my balance. No fall, no pain, just enough of a jolt to get my attention. I stopped. I listened. "Pay attention," I sensed, "Pay attention to this step, this present moment, and enjoy it as it comes." And so I did. I didn't try to think deep thoughts or solve any problems. I simply walked, looked, was open, and enjoyed. I received the grace to love and give thanks for each moment.
There is a wonderful variety of stones in many shapes, sizes, and colors by the creek. I picked one up. As I turned it over in my hands, I sensed that it would be good to sit for a bit and look at more stones. I did, then I walked along the creek, stopping a few times to close my eyes and just listen to the water and the birds, and found a few more stones. I love them.
When I discovered that square stone, I laughed and laughed. I had just been talking to Billie about my upbringing in the church and the rigidity of it, about the learning I have done and still need to do to be thankful for the good things I received from it. When I saw that stone, I realized/received the understanding that there's plenty of room for squares in the kingdom of God, that there is a place for and the creation of things with straight sides and sharp corners, and sometimes I could be a blockhead myself. Then I realized the stone was laughing along with me.
I returned to the bunkhouse and set about looking at the pictures Billie had left there for me. I just wanted to look and look and look, keeping pictures that touched me in some way, but not thinking too much yet about why they did. After about an hour, I think, I stopped and asked myself, "Is this it? Is this how you want to spend this time you're paying for?" I thought about it and decided/realized that yes, this was it. For now.
I spent the rest of that time until my second session with Billie going through pictures. It is a marvelous hospitality she provides just in that one act, collecting pictures for people to look at and use. The number of and reasons for the images I chose are too many to share, but I invite you to find your own.
After my second meeting with Billie, I spent another hour or so walking around and looking. There are a number of stones on the railing of the back deck of the bunkhouse; I assume they were left by past retreaters...retreatants? Anyway, I added one of my own to the collection.
On the drive home I passed a ranged being burned (see http://www.kansasflinthillsadventures.com/flames.html for more info. on range burning). I realized that some folks probably don't have range burning in their part of the world, so I took a couple of pictures. I wanted to take a picture of the sign that said pull over if the smoke from the burning was dense, but I passed it before I could get the camera ready - sorry!
I love the prairie.