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This year marked the 10th anniversary of  the Knitters retreat at Mount Saviour Monastery, a time set aside to retreat, reflect, renew.  It is a time to take a deep breath, to step away from the everyday busyness, having to be somewhere to do something, organize an event, answer the phone.  Cell phones seldom work at the monastery and without Wifi for online connection,  it helps everyone practice less use of those things that eat up too much of our time.  
 
As the name of the retreat implies, it is a time for knitters to come together. But what we do is more than share our knitting projects and skills.  We share a bit about ourselves, our beliefs, practices, traditions.  Those of us familiar with the monastery are able to show others around,  stopping to recommend some books for reading in the gift shop,  share what we have learned about the Rule of Benedict and the daily rhythm of praying the hours.  
 
There is time for fellowship, readings, silence, walks, watching the sheep, sharing recipes, workshops, star gazing, praying the hours with the monks and so much more. 
 
A lot of teaching goes on. This year some of the participants were able to see a demonstration of card weaving.   Others tried their hand at hand-spinning their own yarn.  The number of spinning wheels present each years seems to increase.  The oldest is my 100 + year old Great Wheel, 5 feet tall and 7 feet long.  
 
I taught a workshop on how to make coiled baskets using cord and yarn from the monastery gift shop.  Participants struggled with their baskets at first but once they got past the beginning, they were pleased with what they were making, something they will be able to use in practical ways. A new skilled learned.  
 
What did I come away with from this year’s retreat?  As a gardener I tend to think of things in gardening terms.  I see all the sharing as seeds being planted.  In my morning reading I was reminded that I am also a seed, to be gentle with myself as I grow, being as patient with myself as I was with others during the retreat. 
 
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I listen for my word
Nothing comes forth
Then I hear Spirit whisper
Easing into solace  in community
Greeting the silence
Reading,  praying, walking, singing
Inspired I listen with the ear of my heart
The word emerges …  Integrity
Yes!
Integrity is the word that has chosen me this year.  I feel the weight of it, I embrace it.
It wasn’t what I’d chosen,  I had a list of words that I wanted to work with, easy words.
Others not so easy, but that came to mind while reflecting on the past year.
Courage … which was my word for last year, still kept tapping me on the shoulder.
Aftermath …  a word that described much of last year.   Good or bad, it seemed that much came abruptly, uprooting what was familiar to me and others.  In some ways, I have been the one doing the digging, uprooting.  I hope most of it has been good, that I have shared my light with others. But it didn’t feel like a ‘word’.
Community … so much growth, so much more needed in the way of forgiveness, sharing…
Immersion, conversion … both words that I explore often as a benedictine oblate and with a group I facilitate weekly at a monastery.
When I wasn’t expecting it my word found me…
Integrity … It calls for me to let myself be seen. Its speaks of wholeness, truthfulness, quality …  and so much more.
A little over a year ago I participated in a 3 day fiber fusion workshop.  In the workshop we experimented with fibers and fabrics, working up samples and learning what works really well so that when we create something we know we have done it well and that our work represents who we are.  A few of the participants were disappointed with not having come away with a finished project, but I was very happy with what I came away with. For me the workshop was not about fibers, textiles or form.  It was about Integrity.
While on a break during that workshop, I wandered the grounds and found a labyrinth and while walking thought about what I was learning and how it applied to my work.
A few weeks ago I walked a labyrinth nearby, celebrating Winter Solstice and in memory of my Mom on the anniversary of her death.  I was open to a new word, not remembering my thoughts on that other walk, until my word chose me this year.
Why now has this word come to me? What will it bring?
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And…  in case anyone is wondering about my goals/intentions/call them what you will for the coming year….
Plant seeds
Plant earlier
Deadhead frequently
Water well
Stop and gaze at the blooms

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