On March 16th to 18th, eighteen people from our faith community gathered at The Marie Joseph Spirituality center in Biddeford Pool, Maine to Listen for God. On this page, we will share their reflections on their experience. Mark your calendars now for next years retreat May 3rd to 5th when the sandy beach and blue ocean will be even more inviting.
To see more photos go to: https://photos.app.goo.gl/pn1XfHykRcMD8Gzi1
My experience at Marie Joseph Spiritual Center was a very enlightening one. Although I am a young adult, I felt it was a great way to relax and take time away from the regular routine that I have. The experience really helped me to find my own meaning and gave me a new light of looking at myself and my relationship with God. I found the first activity we did to be very enlightening. What this activity allowed us to do was not only talk to someone else about what we were going through, but it also gave us the opportunity to listen to the other person speaking. This felt comforting to me, because I felt I was there for the other person, and although I was not responding like people normally do, they knew that I was there for them and that they could trust me with what they were saying.
Another one of the activities I enjoyed was writing the letter to God, and then writing to us from God’s perspective. This was an interesting activity that I never participated in in the past, however, it taught me a lot about myself. I noticed that when I wrote the letter to God I wrote to him about helping me with where I was in my relationship with him. Then, when I wrote to myself from him, I wrote all positive attributes about myself which allowed me to see the positive in myself, instead of focusing on the negative.
Walking on the beach was another great way to meditate and be with God during this weekend. I personally have always enjoyed walking on the beach and listening to the waves on the ocean; and watching the birds fly overhead gave me a peace I’ve never experienced before. I felt comforted and restful in God. I felt that it was a renewal of my relationship with him, and it gave me a great opportunity to learn how to listen more to him so he can help me instead of constantly asking him for help.
I also want to mention all the wonderful people I met on this retreat. I feel that God brought us all together for a reason, and being able to spend the weekend and the meditation in God together, is a bond that is tighter than anything else.
I found the retreat to the “Marie Joseph Resort Center” to be much more enlightening than I thought it would be. I have been struggling in walk with the Lord and found some of the exercises that Pastor Steve gave us to do, to be more revealing than I thought they would be. One on the exercises that we had was to take some time to meditate and pray to see what was revealed to us by listening to God. I was in my room and was looking out the window. Our room was not directly facing the ocean, but I could see it further out across the way. While I was sitting there, I was watching the tide come in and out and realized that God was telling me that I was fighting him and that I needed to stop. As the waves came in it was God reaching out to me, and as the waves ebbed I was pushing him away. Another exercise he gave us was to write a letter to God using our dominant hand, then to switch hands and respond as God answering us. By using our dominant I realized that I was really thinking about what I was saying to him, but when we switched to our non-dominant hand, the response was much different than I had expected because I was concentrating on writing legibly and didn’t pay any attention to what was being written. I felt that God had truly responded to my letter.
I am so glad that we were able to go on the retreat this year, and am already looking forward to next year. Thank you so much to St. Matthew’s for allowing us to enjoy this experience.
My mind is often cluttered with things to speak with God about. I am usually filled with gratitude and praise but sometimes when I feel unworthy of God’s love, I have nothing to say. Maybe that’s the best time to listen. But how? This weekend at our retreat, I learned many concrete and creative ways to listen for God and I rejoice that my God toolbox is filling up!
I learned that many of us carry burdens and have questions about God and it comforts me to know that I am not the only one who is unsure of God’s ways. A key take-away for me is that God is still present with us even in our unknowingness and I wonder if maybe he loves us even more deeply when we are struggling and unsure.
This weekend was restful and nourishing and I loved getting to know fellow church members more deeply. Connections are so important and it was wonderful to connect with other loving souls in learning, prayer and fellowship.
Driving home from the retreat and reflecting back on the weekend, I alternately teared up and grinned. To sum up, we laughed, we cried, we connected. It was wonderful.
My biggest take-away is this: It is profoundly moving when people are invited to share their stories. In the safe environment we created together, there was sacredness in both the speaking and the listening, the giving and receiving. In church we worship as a group, and that is good. But having a chance to truly connect as individuals is transformative. I wish we could all do this on a regular basis, to share our “real” selves and recognize how much we have in common—including a whole lot of questions about God, how to feed our hunger for God’s love and how to BE God’s love for each other. (How do we create more opportunities for this kind of sharing? Let’s think about it and talk!)
Pastor Steve created a wonderful program of prayer and singing and sharing, with free time to walk on the beach, read, chat, or nap. We ate delicious meals together, prepared by the sisters. We created beautiful impromptu music on the chimes (thank you, Sue Lee!), we made puzzles, played with clay, journaled, hugged and celebrated. Oh yes, and we laughed. A lot. Thank you for hilarious typos and group games and birthday cake!
I’m so glad I attended and feel more connected than ever to my St. Matthew’s family. Let’s continue to share our stories, so we can truly know each other. I believe there is great power in this.
Ever since this past Fall, I had been feeling as though my life was getting way too hectic. But with 4 children it’s somewhat expected to be that way….there’s always something, right? This was different though. I felt as though things kept piling up on top of one another, and there wasn’t enough of me go around in order to deal with any of it. My mind was always racing, and I was worried and anxious about too many things at once. I felt uneasy and at unrest all the time. My mind was overflowing with angst, and without realizing it, I let my relationship with God take the backseat. I hated that disconnected feeling once I realized what had happened, yet couldn’t seem to change it.
This retreat was exactly what I needed to put things in perspective and refocus on what’s important: my relationship with God. Not only praying and talking to Him, but also listening. I never really thought about “listening for God,” and I admit it’s not an easy thing for me to do because it does require me to “be still” and quiet my mind. But He is worth it!
Additionally, the opportunity to feel like I could talk with and really get to know some of the people I see at church each week was a real blessing; and the level of trust and closeness within the group was extremely comforting.
This was my second retreat as a member of St. Matthew’s, and I hope to attend every retreat offered me in the future, especially at this breathtaking location!
~ Amy H.
My retreat weekend at the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center was another great opportunity to get to know some of members of our Saint Mathew’s family a little bit better. Each time I’ve gone, I’ve been impressed with the willingness of the attendees to be open, honest, vulnerable and caring. People I’ve known for several years and people I had hardly spoken to before that weekend made this another memorable time. The chance to learn, eat, and play together at a place that frees us from our day-to-day responsibilities is truly a gift.
As usual, Pastor Steve provided us with plenty of resources to help us to grow, this time by presenting modes of praying and listening, guiding us with examples and providing us the time and space to practice the various methods. We at Saint Matthew’s are blessed to have a spiritual leader that is a talented teacher and musician who enjoys having fun as well.
I look forward to the retreat next year in May and strongly encourage everyone to consider going.
~ Wayne L.
The spiritual life retreat was a priceless gift. It was a spectacular sunrise opening each day to deeper connections with one another and God. It was a party with purpose, tears and laughter. It was an opportunity to get away and just be.
For me arriving at the Marie Joseph Spiritual life center is like climbing into the loving arms of God. The hospitality of the sister’s and the comfort of the facility fill the air with a gentle peace. The beauty of the beach and the rocky coast are restorative. It is a place that invites your heart to dance and your soul to sing. It is the perfect place to learn, to grow, to make new friends and to have fun.
~ Susan L