Church-Wellesley Diary

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Jae

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I have to say, Jae, that including your food choices in your diary is not an enhancing feature. Your diet, as described by you, is almost a recipe for obesity, heart disease, stroke risk and cancer...
And yet they were a part of the whole experience. As @Mendalla suggests - I typically eat more nutritionally at home. A major factor in my food choices while on retreat was cost. That said, I believe it can be said that I should have chosen better even considering the price. A couple of days after the retreat was over, I came down with a bad cold/flu.
 

revsdd

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And yet they were a part of the whole experience. As @Mendalla suggests - I typically eat more nutritionally at home. A major factor in my food choices while on retreat was cost. That said, I believe it can be said that I should have chosen better even considering the price. A couple of days after the retreat was over, I came down with a bad cold/flu.
What you eat is a part of the experience of a retreat, and properly belongs in such a diary. Carry on, Jae.

As to your comment describing your realization about LGBTQ people, how will it affect you? Your faith? Your church work? Your understanding of the gospel? Of grace? Of God? All things that occurred to me as I read your words.
 

paradox3

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This one. Since you seem puzzled, Brother Jae.
Saturday, March 11, 9:45 a.m.

(Warning - this one's a little gross)

§ Walked to Hasty Market to buy breakfast. Left with a frozen Hungry Man fried chicken dinner, and a small container of milk for coffee (there was a microwave and coffee maker in my room)


§ Walked to Victoria’s Mansion.

§ Cooked the chicken dinner and brewed coffee. Began watching more of The Gospel of John.

§ Realized there was a problem. As has happened to me sometimes before, a piece of food (possibly this time chicken) got caught in my throat.

§ Rushed to the washroom to heave.

As was I was coughing up phlegm, my headache was still there and intensified due to my heaving. The thought that then came to my mind was - God is my refuge and my strength, a very real help in times of danger.

§ Prayed to God, 'Lord, you are my refuge and my strength, a very real help in times of danger.

§ Finished hacking up food into the toilet. Continued eating. Watched videos as I ate – music and NF Geeks conversations with an ENFP Christian, and an ISTP Christian.
 

Jae

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This one. Since you seem puzzled, Brother Jae.
Since I expect Brother Jae will push me for "proof" this is the one I was thinking about.
Actually paradox3, since you said, "no worries," I decided not to push you for proof on it.
 

Jae

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What you eat is a part of the experience of a retreat, and properly belongs in such a diary. Carry on, Jae.

As to your comment describing your realization about LGBTQ people, how will it affect you? Your faith? Your church work? Your understanding of the gospel? Of grace? Of God? All things that occurred to me as I read your words.
Those are good questions Steven, for which I have no clear answers at this time. I just thought that was an important moment to share.
 

revsdd

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Those are good questions Steven, for which I have no clear answers at this time. I just thought that was an important moment to share.
Fair enough. It's just important not to let that realization pass without giving it further reflection. In many ways the most important part of a retreat is how we respond later to the insights we've gained from it. And it's not a matter of your conclusion being right or wrong. It's just important to wrestle with God a bit.
 

Jae

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Sorry all... I realize I have let slip reporting on my retreat. Here is my complete paper on the experience which I completed for the course I'm in...

From Friday, March 10 to Sunday March 12, 2017, I went on a personal spiritual retreat in downtown Toronto. I supplemented this by engaging in some spiritual exercises at home on Monday, March 13. My retreat downtown took place in the Church-Wellesley neighborhood where I stayed at the guesthouse Victoria’s Mansion (see http://www.victoriasmansion.com).

At the time, I considered the retreat to be a major undertaking. This attitude changed, however, when I read Henri Nouwen’s book The Genessee Diary which chronicles his seven months living as a monk in a Trappist Monastery.[1] That said, while Nouwen spent seventy times as long closed off from the world, he shared some feelings in his Diary which my own echo.

For one thing, I questioned the sanity of taking a retreat at all. I was interfering with my normal life, and spending valuable time which I could otherwise spend studying. I felt much like Nouwen who writes, “Was it really wise to interrupt my work for this simple life? How would it help me to be a better teacher? I knew these were the wrong questions. I knew that theology needed to be born out of prayer.”[2]

While I could have gone on an earlier class retreat to a more rural setting, I chose to do a personal retreat in the city because I had previously experienced a rural retreat, I am a student in Tyndale’s Church in the City program, and because I believe God can be experienced wherever there exists His Word and/or Sacraments.

Going on an urban retreat presented events to reflect upon that a rural retreat wouldn’t. I often walked outside and, listening for God’s voice of God in the city, noticed his Creation existing amongst concrete. Just after 8 p.m. on Saturday night, I prayed for a woman who had left messages on my room’s telephone for a man whom she said she loved and was worried about. On Sunday afternoon, I encouraged a homeless man to whom I gave some change after he told me that he was questioning God as to why he had to sleep outside when it was so cold.

During my retreat, guided by David Sherbino’s book Renew, I participated in spiritual exercises designed to facilitate my becoming closer to God. These exercises included devotional reading (Robert C. Linthicum’s City of God City of Satan), morning prayer, praying the Psalms (Psalm 46), silence before God, holy reading (Luke 1:1-14; and Luke 1:26-38), life reviewal, silence and solitude, meditating on the psalms (Psalm 46), Gospel contemplation (Mark 10:34-35), soul-searching, listening to Creation (after praying through Psalm 8), praying with Scripture, reflecting on a personal rule of life, and praying the prayer of examen.[3]

This prayer of examen[4] was for me the most challenging of the spiritual exercises. I felt as if God was reaching deep within me to pull out very ugly things I had done that day for me to look at. I had to be critical toward myself yet also consider good that God had done through me that day.


Nouwen writes:

When you explore in depth your unruly and wild emotions you will be confronted with your sinful self. This confrontation should not lead to despair but should set you free to receive the compassion of God without whom no healing is possible.[5]

In addition to Sherbino’s exercises, I added some other spiritual elements into the mix. These included praying for God to be with people in my life (family, friends, church, and Tyndale folks) during the time I was on retreat, praying for God’s blessing on Victoria’s Mansion and the people who would be staying there while I was, praying for the shalom of the neighborhood, and of the city, praying for my classmates in Group D in the Spiritual Formation course, praying along with the prayer meeting found on YouTube at
, praying using as inspiration pictures of the neighborhood that I’d taken using my smartphone while out on walks, praying with my whole body rather than just with words (based on Psalm 46), reading an online devotion, watching the movie The Gospel of John on YouTube, watching a sermon on YouTube of Islington Baptist Church’s late Youth Pastor Stephen Spencer, and gathering with NewLife Church (http://www.nlife.ca) for worship, prayer, and fellowship.

I attended the church service because, even as I sat for hours in my room going through spiritual exercises, I longed to be together with others in worship of God. Nouwen also notices the need for community, writing, “we form communities and we experience all of life as a gift of God – that is why praise is so central – praise for God’s gifts.”[6]

The people of NewLife Church were each very warm and welcoming to me. Many of them asked me questions about my retreat and some of them said a special prayer for me. I have always marveled at how well Christians new to each other seem to get along. Nouwen perhaps touches on this when he writes, “It is exactly in the preciousness of the individual person that the eternal love of God is refracted and becomes the basis of a community of love.”[7]

A question that arose for me during my retreat was why, amid my engaging in exercises to benefitting my spirit, my body was suffering. During the time of my retreat and shortly thereafter I experienced physical setbacks. I awoke on Saturday morning with a headache, got a piece of food lodged in my throat the same day and had to vomit it out, and bonked my head on an overhead TV rack. On Sunday, after I had returned home, I had an epileptic seizure. These physical failings both humbled me and led me to more deeply commit myself to the retreat.

However, there were ways in which I failed God that I later prayed for forgiveness. First, I spent some time on social media and answering emails even though I had promised God that I would not.

Nouwen had a similar experience and writes:

Since I have lived in this Abbey of the Genesee, I have written many more letters than I planned to write when I came. My original idea was: no telephone, no letters, neither outgoing nor incoming, no visitors, no contact with guests – but a real retreat ‘alone with the Alone.[8]

Second, I had chosen not to offer help to a woman I saw in a Dollarama who may have needed medical attention, and to a homeless man outside the same store. Third, upon my return home, rather than just occupy my time with doing additional spiritual exercises, as I had promised God to do, I also watched some television.

During my retreat, and the Monday thereafter, I felt the Spirit of God moving in my life to bring various things to my attention. Perhaps this feeling is a part of why Nouwen writes, “The Christian life on earth is simply the beginning of this heavenly existence.”[9] I believe the Spirit told me that I can share with people that God’s existence can be seen through the good actions of Jesus and his followers, I should consider trying-out different worship styles and exercises, their style of worship for myself, that praying with my body can seem more meaningful to me than using words alone as I invest more of myself into the prayer, that I should be less critical of others, that it is possible that no church will ever call me into the vocational pastorate – and that that’s okay, that my main concern when it comes to calling should be desiring the one in which I can best honor Christ and evangelize, that just as Jesus came to Earth to serve, so too I am called to serve God and others, that I should work on becoming more assertive, and – since community is important to me - more proactive when it comes to establishing and maintaining relationships with others, that I should use everything that’s happened in my past to serve God, that I should work most on developing my relationships with God, my wife, my middle son, and my extended family, that I should be focusing more of my time on my devotional time with God, on my family, on my church, and on homework, that I should be spending less of my time on social media, that I should begin to exercise more and eat better and less, that all of Creation needs care, including other people and myself, that she can cut into our everyday lives at any time and do the unexpected, that whenever She intercedes in our human affairs, something wonderful will result. that, as a quiet time with God is somewhat like a mini-retreat, I should be having one every day, that a purposeful retreat can be a great experience and therefore should be held at least once a year, that I ought to offer my entire life to God, and that She is present and at work in every neighborhood of the city.

A reflection that Henri Nouwen writes in his book regarding his entire stay in the Monastery sums up well my feelings about my own retreat.

He writes:

Why was I there? I don’t know fully yet. Probably I will not know fully before the end of the cycle of my life. Still, I can say that I have a most precious memory which keeps unfolding itself in all that I do or plan to do… It also continues to offer new perspectives on present events and guides in decisions for the years to come.[10]









Bibliography

· Nouwen, Henri J. M. The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery. Kindle ed. London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2014.

· Sherbino, David. Renew: a basic guide for a personal retreat. Kindle ed. Lagoon City, Ontario: Castle Quay Books, 2015.



[1] Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery, Kindle ed. (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2014), 13.

[2] Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery, Kindle ed. (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2014), 20.


[3] David Sherbino, Renew: a basic guide for a personal retreat, Kindle ed. (Lagoon City, Ontario: Castle Quay Books, 2015), Location 266-766.

[4]Ibid, Location 377-451.

[5] Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery, Kindle ed. (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2014), 82-83.


[6] Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery, Kindle ed. (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2014), 23.

[7] Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery, Kindle ed. (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2014), 85.

[8] Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery, Kindle ed. (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2014), 86.

[9] Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery, Kindle ed. (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2014), 29.


[10] Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Genesee diary: report from a Trappist monastery, Kindle ed. (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2014), 218-219.
 

Tabitha

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Good paper. Perhaps a bit superficial though. Your insights about gay, LBGT folks was not included.
As you have noted perhaps the reason you fell physically ill is due to lack of care for your body. You fed it crap .
 

Jae

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As you have noted perhaps the reason you fell physically ill is due to lack of care for your body. You fed it crap .
I believe it's fair to say that that's one contributing factor Tabitha. I'm also willing to say as a belief statement that I believe some of it may have been an attack of the enemy. I feel that whenever we do something for God, the enemy has an interest in attacking us.
 

Luce NDs

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Perhaps the problem is he is over expanding his capabilities to know what heis doing ... thus Knossos doings in the deep past ...

Those with deep belief in presence ... loose concept of pas wisdom ... thus it goes ...
 

Luce NDs

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I believe it's fair to say that that's one contributing factor Tabitha. I'm also willing to say as a belief statement that I believe some of it may have been an attack of the enemy. I feel that whenever we do something for God, the enemy has an interest in attacking us.
The enemy to emotions is a wise thought ... so far thus lost!
 

Jae

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Perhaps the problem is he is over expanding his capabilities to know what heis doing ... thus Knossos doings in the deep past ...

Those with deep belief in presence ... loose concept of pas wisdom ... thus it goes ...
I don't believe that one needs many capabilities to come to God Luce. I believe he has made doing so even simple enough for a guy like me.
 

Luce NDs

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I don't believe that one needs many capabilities to come to God Luce. I believe he has made doing so even simple enough for a guy like me.
That is a narrow perspective of the broad base situation that is ignorant to the narrow minded ...

Such is point oriented passage ...
 

Carolla

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I believe it's fair to say that that's one contributing factor Tabitha. I'm also willing to say as a belief statement that I believe some of it may have been an attack of the enemy. I feel that whenever we do something for God, the enemy has an interest in attacking us.
Wow. That is so far removed from my own thinking that I hardly know what to say. Seems like you're saying that your own personal choices are irrelevant? Am I understanding that?
 

Jae

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Wow. That is so far removed from my own thinking that I hardly know what to say. Seems like you're saying that your own personal choices are irrelevant? Am I understanding that?
I believe that our own personal choices are very important Carolla. I believe that we are called to take good care of ourselves, I believe that we are called to, in the power of Christ, fight off the enemy.
 

Carolla

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So how does this apply then, when it is suggested to you that making the choice of eating poorly may be adversely affecting your health? I'm not making the connection.
 

Jae

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So how does this apply then, when it is suggested to you that making the choice of eating poorly may be adversely affecting your health? I'm not making the connection.
So I already agreed that poor eating may have been one of the contributing factors to health issues. However, I believe it's possible that it is not the only factor. I don't see why that's difficult to understand Carolla.
 
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