Friday, October 28, 2005

Clergy Retreat at La Palma, Chaletanango

Top- Mural by local artist Juan Carlos who has taken the well-known Llort style in a new direction.
Middle Top-Padres Alex Tobar and John Habeker relax on the patio
Middle- The Very Rev. Dean Bower and Rt. Rev. Martin Barahona hold a discussion after breakfast.
Bottom-Bishop Barahona and Rev. Ramiro Chavez discuss the morning service.

The weather was perfect for the clergy retreat in La Palma, which is a small village up in the northern mountains of El Salvador and is well-known for its artesans. The time of relaxing, spiritual reflection, and learning was much-needed by the clergy who are all in very intense work situations here. It was a time of building and strengthening relationships among the clergy and remembering to slow down and take care of one's self in the midst of all that is going in the neighborhoods and parishes. The retreat was led by the Very Reverend Richard Bower and focused on fostering the spiritual growth of the clergy. I was lucky enough to be asked to handle the music for the retreat and was graciously included in all the discussions and teaching, which was very beneficial for fostering my own spiritual growth. As things pickup with the music and get busier, I'll need to be even more aware to focus on setting aside time to commune with God and develop my interior life to better handle what occurs in the world around me. To be able to get to know the clergy from around the Diocese and to hear their stories was amazing. Their personal stroies about their spiritual journies in El Salvador are powerful and I hope that one day they will share them with the wider church, especially the church in the U.S. The Episcopal Church in the United States has much to learn from the Anglican/Episcopal Church of El Salvador- much to learn about relationship and mission and how to do God's work in spite of limited resources, in spite of violence and poverty. "God is not in the church buildings," the Bishop told Amy and I once, "God is in the world--in the streets." This is where the Anglican Church of El Salvador is thriving out in the campo, in the streets, where God is calling his people to work. These were a few meditations I mulled over at the retreat. It was challenging and edifying.

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