Do you know what I’m longing for? Today as we officially begin our annual Online Retreat here across our global Velvet Ashes community, I am picturing a scene that fills me with longing.
I see us at a table. There’s about twelve of us there, small enough that every person is seen and heard. Somehow that twelve is all of us, every one of your faces gathered from all corners of the globe. Every inch of the table is heaped with flavors and textures. In each of our hands is a favorite beverage. There’s candlelight and soft music and… time. Time to unwind and eat slowly. No one is rushed. No one is distracted. We are each fully present, fully free to be open and true.
I look you in the eyes and say, “So tell us, how is your soul? What have you weathered this past year? Where are you now? What do you sense God is currently doing in you?”
Every person would share, every story unfold. We would laugh until our cheeks ache. We would pass the tissues when the tears flow. We would rejoice with those who are in a season of rejoicing, and we would weep with those who are in a season of sorrow. We would hold space for all the frustrations, all the unanswered questions.
When it’s my turn, I would tell you about my sabbatical season. I’d tell you about this past season of reengaging in ministry in a new way. I would tell you about my husband’s winter wilderness season, the pain of walking with him in that, and how God invited me to release him to the wilderness. I would tell you of the wonder that happens in the wilderness. I would tell you about the death of dreams, the releasing, the reawakening.
The scene would eventually end, and each of us would return to wherever we currently call home. But then, come next April, we would do it all over again. And then we’d do it again the April after that and the one after that. Every year we’d arrive and hear every new story. We would be there to see the seasons change for each one of us.
“Because for everything there is a season, a time for every matter under heaven…”
As my daydream ends, it’s replaced by the reality of my glowing screen. Suddenly, instead of longing, I’m filled with gratitude. I realize that it’s not a candlelit table, but it is a table, a table called Velvet Ashes. We’ve been journeying together for a long time now. This is our seventh Online Retreat! Many of you have showed up year after year. Many of you are here in this space daily. Some of you, we’re warmly welcoming for the first time. There’s always room at this table. Pull up a chair.
Here is what we discover at this table year after year: the seasons of our souls change. They change drastically at times. When we show up to be with God, to spend time with him both in solitude and in this community, he shows up to be with us.
He shows up in tenderness to meet us right where we are. He sees. He knows. He tends to our souls accordingly. As he tends to each one of our souls, he whispers his very personal invitation. One for you. A different one for me. An invitation for each one of us in the season of our soul.
Because that is the God he is. A word from him, a touch from him fills us as nothing else can. As lovely as an intimate dinner party together would be, it’s him we ultimately long for. He is the one this weekend is about. We get the joy of circling up around our virtual table after our time with him to say, “This is what he showed me. This is what he revealed to me. This is what he’s inviting me to now.”
Join us? It’s not too late. You can register here.
How would you describe the current season of your soul?
What are you longing for as you head into your retreat?