It’s windy tonight – it’s REALLY windy tonight!

–Blogging from the Church of the Brethren Clergy Women’s Retreat

The wind is blowing fiercely around the Serra Retreat Center tonight, rushing through palms and eucalyptus trees as it hurries on its way down the canyon to the sea. The Serra Retreat Center, where Brethren clergy women started their retreat today, is set high in a canyon above Malibu, within sight of the coastline of southern California.

The day was sunny, clear, warm, beautiful. But with the evening and sunset came the wind.

Worship this evening felt like a still, small space in the middle of tumult. Candles were lit, hymns were sung, prayers were spoken, scripture was read, God’s presence was felt in the beauty of the surrounding hills and sea, and in the warmth of the fellowship, as the wind growled outside and shook the plate glass windows through which in the daylight we may be able to see the ocean.

In a closing offering of sharing, the group was invited to recall and name women who have grounded them in the faith. Names were spoken and memories shared. Beautiful names, dropped one by one into that place of worship: Anna, Mary, Myrna, Louise, Ruby, Patricia, Judy, Phyllis, Nancy, Esther, and many more. Mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers, and daughters. Teachers, missionaries, pastors, and the spouses of pastors. Living and dead. The matriarchs of the church.

What might that worship experience mean, in the long term, I wonder? It gave me a vision of what clergy women may accomplish in our world. This evening, I saw a tableau of how women in ministry contribute a still, small space where God is present for people beset by a tumultuous world.

Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Director of News Services