Rocking chairs, wheeled chairs, and folding chairs lightly hugged the candlelit center of our circle on the 2nd floor outdoor patio. The gathered faithful souls at the Disciples AllianceQ Colors of Hope retreat were continuing a time of embodied faith, queer spirituality, and intentional connection. The retreat hosted sessions, sermons, spiritual practices, and conversations with Tyler Heston, William DeShay C. Jackson, Melissa Guthrie, Brendan Y. Boone, Allen V. Harris, and Marian Edmonds-Allen.
That particular October Saturday morning in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Christmount Conference Center, we were surrounded by the amazing colors of Pine, Tulip Poplar, Sourwood, Maple and Oak trees declaring beauty, welcome, and creativity in their transition toward a winter rest.
I was honored to acknowledge sacred space with Rev. Melissa Guthrie as she read a powerful passage from the Green Chapter of the devotional journal Colors of Hope. We then spent time listening, watching, smelling, praying, and delighting in nature. Some observed from their chairs while others wandered deep into the misty woods. As we regathered people spoke the names of the creatures and images that they had accompanied and some of the quiet and powerful prayers emerged from their sharing. We turned our attention from the forest toward one another, listening and attending to the Holy in one another.
The energy in the cool air was sweetly vibrant and powerfully grounded as we spoke Good Words into the circle.
The words came slowly at first.
“Connection” someone breathed,
“love” another whispered, “challenge”, “complexity”, “authenticity”, “welcome”,
“I feel embraced”, “compassion”, “care”
These words, reflections of humans, reflections of nature, revealed to us the ways of right relationship with one another, neighbor, creature, planet, and church. They echo today as reminders of the interconnected ways we might embody compassion, love, and justice. I am grateful for the opportunity for Green Chalice and Alliance Q to share space and live out Good Words together. May we all continue to Breathe Benedictions to one another and into the world.