coy koi

Since my last visit to Stella Maris Retreat Center, Sisters Lois, Francis and Clare and their awesome staff have made lots of little changes. The pool was redone. There are great new Adirondack chairs scattered about. And the pond now has lily pads, lotus flowers and koi!

I have a thing for whiling away hours watching koi. When I first felt that yearning for something more, but wasn't quite ready to start going back to church, I used to spend every Saturday and sometimes Sunday at the Japanese Gardens in Portland. My favorite activity was to do just that, watch the koi. There is something about their colors and their movement that captivates me.

Of course the koi are new and the pond is fairly small, so they're on the small size. The ones at the Japanese Gardens have been there a very long time and some of them are huge! These little koi were also quite shy. Whenever I meandered over to the pond to take a gander, they would run (or I suppose more accurately swim) swiftly to hide under the lily pads. Of course, I could still see them, but they were hiding nonetheless. After I sat quietly for a bit, they would send a scout out, and then slowly start swimming more freely about the pool.

My first few days on retreat, I reflected on my own tendency to hide certain parts of me from God in prayer. It sounds silly, but I also know I'm not alone. About half way through my retreat, with the help of my friendly koi and my retreat director, I realized that just like I can still see the fish "hiding," God can see me too. And just as I patiently waited there, quietly for them to come back out, God patiently waits for me to come out of my shell and to bring my true self to meet God in prayer. And when that happens ... it is definitely a moment for rejoicing!

God is so very good. And what a blessing to have a week each year to savor God's goodness.

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