by Astrida Miller
Eighty women from St Christopher’s, Pensacola, gathered for a weekend in the serenity of Beckwith to ponder the meaning of purpose, prayer, and peace. We were told to use the time as we needed, to sleep, walk, play, or join the group sessions, giving us freedom to find our own version of worship.
Under the leadership of Susan Sowers, rector of St. Christopher’s, we were inspired to think about inner peace, then expanded that thought to world peace, and finally, in a moving homily at the final Eucharist, looked back into ourselves and considered how to be vehicles of peace to each other and everyone we meet. We learned that through prayer, as Christ enters our being and we become one with him, we find peace and are moved to a purposeful life of reaching out to others, leading us back to prayer. The cycle keeps repeating.
During the weekend, we prayed in a Celtic way, a centering way, a dancing way, an Ionian way, and in our personal ways. Transformations occurred as a chaotic group of 80 ladies were formed into a human peace sign, 80 non-dancers coalesced into swaying circles of elm dancers, strangers became loving friends, laughter resounded, tears were shed, and hearts were filled. There were opportunities to find peace in our surroundings, to participate in service projects, and to share stories with one another. As relationships developed and solidified, I began to see that we find purpose in each other’s eyes. Although peace and prayer can be solitary activities, purpose is usually found in relationships and in helping, loving, serving one another.
Thanks be to God for the insights we gained in such a beautiful, spiritual setting.