Tell it Slant: The Good Republican/Democrat

Carol M. Bechtel Jesus is described as the “wisdom of God” in 1 Corinthians 1:24. What most people don’t realize, however, is that Jesus’ teaching had strong links with the Old Testament’s wisdom tradition. This post highlights his use of the parable—in this instance, the Parable of the Good Samaritan—as a teaching tool. It’s a methodContinue reading “Tell it Slant: The Good Republican/Democrat”

Remembering as Resistance and Restoration: In Honor of Dr. King

Theresa F. Latini Today is MLK Day, a national holiday set aside for collectively remembering, honoring, and recommitting ourselves to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. This year I’ve been reflecting on the fullness and gravitas of remembering as an act of resistance and restoration. Remembering is at the heart of divine life. GodContinue reading “Remembering as Resistance and Restoration: In Honor of Dr. King”

A Christmas Poem and a Prayer for All

Merry Christmas from Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center! We wish you days filled with unexpected glimpses of hope, peace, joy, and love. We wish the same for those who have celebrated Hanukkah and those for whom Kwanzaa is starting. We all belong to God and therefore to each other. We share with you todayContinue reading “A Christmas Poem and a Prayer for All”

Preparing our Hearts and Homes

Theresa F. Latini In recent posts, we’ve been reflecting on the qualities or dispositions of Advent living, wondering what it means to “anticipate the good” and “wait in the midst of fear.” This season invites us to slow down, to practice stillness (even if only in snippets each day), to listen to our personal andContinue reading “Preparing our Hearts and Homes”

Waiting Even When We are Afraid

Theresa F. Latini No small amount of life is waiting. We wait in lines—longer than usual when spaced six feet apart. We wait to hear diagnoses, both good and bad, from doctors. We keep vigil at birth and death—waiting for one beloved life to arrive and another to depart. We wait to receive final grades,Continue reading “Waiting Even When We are Afraid”

Anticipating Light when All Seems Dark

Theresa F. Latini For those of us who follow the church calendar, we have entered the season of Advent, four weeks of preparing our hearts and homes to welcome God anew in our midst. Anticipating, waiting, preparing, and wondering: these are the marks of Advent living and the dispositions that Advent rituals (candles, wreaths, calendars,Continue reading “Anticipating Light when All Seems Dark”

Mindful Eating for the Holidays

Theresa F. Latini When I was a teenager, my family frequently celebrated Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle’s house. Dick and Fran served a five-course, Italian style, unforgettable meal. Nearly thirty of us feasted slowly, over the course of an entire day, on antipasto, fish, homemade ravioli, a traditional turkey meal, and too many piesContinue reading “Mindful Eating for the Holidays”

Solidarity in Thanks and Care

Theresa F. Latini For the past few months, my daughter, niece, and I have sat down to dinner and asked each other, “What one thing are you grateful for today?” This simple practice has attuned us to the ordinary gifts of daily life. It has buoyed our spirits and connected us to each other andContinue reading “Solidarity in Thanks and Care”

When the Needs of All Matter to All

Theresa F. Latini 2020 just delivered another record-breaking week. The United States endured 181,000 cases of COVID-19 in one day. Minnesota’s numbers keep climbing, over 8,700 yesterday. We are witnessing more deaths, fewer ICU beds, and health care workers stretched thin. The same is true for our neighboring states. North Dakota’s health care system isContinue reading “When the Needs of All Matter to All”

Blessing for the Waiting Time

Theresa F. Latini Shalom, EleanorShalom, ZakariaShalom, LenaShalom, Oliver . . . That’s how my daughter’s first-grade teacher began class on Wednesday morning this past week. She went through all twenty-fix students, each one reciprocating, “Shalom.” They had been greeting one another in different languages for weeks. This personal address, however, stopped me in my tracks.Continue reading “Blessing for the Waiting Time”

Sabbath Rest, Freedom, and Joy

Theresa F. Latini When I was called to serve as Executive Director at Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center, I thought a lot about the connection of “retreat” to “rest” and “rest” to “Sabbath.” Over my years of teaching pastoral care, I had become increasingly aware of the necessity of Sabbath rest and the propensityContinue reading “Sabbath Rest, Freedom, and Joy”

The (Dis)Quiet of Mid-October Snow

Theresa F. Latini I woke up early Tuesday morning to rake as many fallen leaves as possible. My race to beat the snow was motivated by a strong distaste of both shoveling leafy-snowy mixtures now and raking wet, rotting leaves later. I hauled my sixth bag into the garage twenty minutes after the snow beganContinue reading “The (Dis)Quiet of Mid-October Snow”

Sabbath: It’s About Time

Travis West In last week’s Retreat Where You Are reflection, “A Sabbath (Re)Orientation,” I suggested that the Sabbath is more of a value system or a way of living than merely a day of prohibitions. The Sabbath is the “master builder” and we are its “apprentices” in the lifelong pursuit of wholeheartedness, presence, gratitude, andContinue reading “Sabbath: It’s About Time”

A Sabbath (Re)Orientation

Travis West The Sabbath is a cosmic gift woven into the fabric of creation from the very beginning of time—a gift that we desperately need today. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel revitalized Sabbath practice in American Jewish communities in the twentieth century with the publication of his magisterial little book The Sabbath. Heschel brings unique passion,Continue reading “A Sabbath (Re)Orientation”

An Astronomy of Grace

Theresa F. Latini Woven throughout a number of resources and posts here at Retreat Where You Are is this phrase: geography of grace. I first encountered this generative notion in “Placing Formation,” a lecture delivered at Austin Seminary by practical theologian Dorothy Bass. She defined geographies of grace as “place[s] infused with the grace ofContinue reading “An Astronomy of Grace”

Self-Empathy as Self-Care

Theresa F. Latini Like so many families, we just finished week three of online school. I say “we” because completing five hours of online assignments and video calls daily is not something that first graders manage on their own. Overall, it’s going well. My daughter has established a solid connection with her empathetic teacher, andContinue reading “Self-Empathy as Self-Care”

The Meaningfulness of Coming Home

Theresa F. Latini Last night at Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center, Katie Dahl played an outdoor evening concert for sixty of us. Dahl is a Door County folk musician (a singer songwriter to be more precise) who inspires, comforts, amuses, and challenges her audiences to live and love with humility and gratitude. Her lyrics,Continue reading “The Meaningfulness of Coming Home”

When the Earth’s Abundance and Ruin Converge

Theresa F. Latini Two sets of images of the earth converged in my mind this week: one of delightful abundance, another of apocalyptic ruin. At the retreat center, our peach tree grows on an old tennis court transformed into a garden and mini-orchard. It is not a big tree. Yet it yielded over 1100 peachesContinue reading “When the Earth’s Abundance and Ruin Converge”

Labor Day and Sabbath Day

Theresa F. Latini A long-weekend of play before the start of school, one last trip to the Minnesota State Fair, bargain shopping at our favorite retail stores, end-of-summer picnics with friends and family, and watching parades with marching bands blaring and kids freely running and shouting: these are but a few of the ways thatContinue reading “Labor Day and Sabbath Day”

Accepting the Uncertainty of Now

Theresa F. Latini Four months ago, as we began developing this initiative, Retreat Where You Are, we acknowledged this reality: “Life looks and feels different right now. You may be anxious about your new daily routine and the uncertainty of the future.” Here, in the United States, we had been living with the pandemic forContinue reading “Accepting the Uncertainty of Now”

How’s Your Surge Capacity?

Theresa F. Latini Earlier this week, someone was telling me how unmotivated he feels about his job, a dimension of life previously filled with purpose and marked by meaningful structure. Work once ordered his days. Now his job has changed dramatically due to the pandemic. It is disorienting to create new routines. It is tiringContinue reading “How’s Your Surge Capacity?”

The Paradoxes and Promises of Simplicity

Theresa F. Latini This past week Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center hosted an online workshop, “Simplifying Our Lives and Living Spaces,” led by Pastor Becca Ehrlich. Besides writing and teaching about Christian minimalism, Becca genuinely lives it. Her story of choosing simplicity through a variety of practices—e.g., a one-year fast from shopping, reducing herContinue reading “The Paradoxes and Promises of Simplicity”