Sanibel Island Retreat 2017

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Approaching the Storm (2017)

It was cloudy when I left home. By the time I reached Punta Gorda, I could see dark clouds ahead of me, with rain dropping from one particularly dark cloud. I drove straight through the downpour. Thankfully, in less than five minutes, I had driven through the storm.

I am staying once again at the Seahorse Cottages on Buttonwood Lane — this time in Cottage #3. That makes three of the four cottages that I have stayed in! After a couple hours of puzzle making, I walked to the Gulf side and enjoyed a leisurely soak in the gentle seawater.

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Garden Pool (2017)

The next morning, I started the day with a cup of Ethiopian coffee, my book of Psalms, and a journal on the back porch overlooking the garden pool. After a while, a pesky and persistent mosquito drove me inside.

 

The weather has gone from a cloudburst of rain to scattered showers to steady, soaking rain. I took advantage of the break in the rain about 5:30 pm to walk the shore along San Carlos Bay. The tide was unusually low – about ten feet from the 3-ft.-high seawall. Two women were watching their dogs play in the water. When I reached the canal close to the causeway, I could go no further, so I had to turn around.

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Turtle Mailbox (2017)

The bayshore is lined with huge homes, most of which seemed closed up for hurricane season. In that whole length of coastline, there was no access to the street. One house appeared to be in the process of deterioration or remodeling with no lawn. I climbed the wall and cut across the property to get to the street for my return walk. Now, I could see the front sides of these extravagant homes. Many had “original” mailboxes, as though there were a neighborhood competition: a green fish with an open red mouth where the mail was deposited, a 3-ft.-tall lighthouse (on Lighthouse Way), a hexagonal birdhouse atop the mailbox, and one with a buoy and driftwood hanging from it. One mailbox said “Welcome”, and I was tempted to show up at the front door to test its sincerity!

On the third day, more rain; this time, a gentle soaking rain. I like the sound of rain during the night. I even like rainy days here in the land of sunshine. I even don’t mind a week of rain because I know the sun will return . . . and especially because we are in need of water just now. A week of rain at the beach? When I was working full time and living in a colder climate, a week of rain at the beach was a disappointment, maybe even close to a disaster. Would I have liked to see the sun last week? Of course, but so far by the third day, I was OK with a Sanibel Retreat so very different from the previous two years.

I kept hearing in my mind a song by Jaime Cortez called Rain Down (1991). It is based on Psalm 33.

Rain down (2)

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Gulf Storm (2017)

Rain down your love on your people.

Rain down (2)

Rain down your love, God of life.

1. Faithful and true is the Word of our God

All of God’s works are so worthy of trust

God’s mercy falls on the just and the right

Full of God’s love is the earth.

2. We who revere and find hope in our God

Live in the kindness and joy of God’s wing

God will protect us from darkness and death

God will not leave us to starve.

3. God of creation, we long for your truth

You are the water of life that we thirst

Grant that your love and peace touch our hearts

All of our hope lies in you.

Each day, I pray the intercessions written by Susan Barber, OSB, in Give Us This Day. I found this one particularly appropriate for my island retreat:

Compassionate God, restore hope and wholeness to communities devastated by natural or environmental disaster. Uphold efforts to work for environmental justice.

Day Four was another day of rain. I went out at 7:00 am to look up at the sky. There, in the opening in the canopy was blue sky! It is very windy so I knew that clouds would soon roll in to cover that patch. There are so many metaphors for stormy weather. We are now in hurricane season. Yesterday, I received a text from a friend who witnessed a tornado that took out two huge trees in her neighborhood.

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After the Rain (2017)

Yet, even in the midst of all the storms, I was at peace. I didn’t have to be anywhere else; I had no obligations all week. I had been to Sanibel Island before so I didn’t feel the need to go sightseeing or to explore the many great restaurants on the island. I could enjoy indoor activities without feeling any “shoulds”: making jigsaw puzzles, reading novels with my feet up, working on photographs on my computer, etc. The days were ordinary, routine, same-as-yesterday, some might say “boring”, but to me the days were full of PEACE. The day will come when I need to attend to life beyond this island, but for last week, I could just “soak” in this grace-filled time.

I found another song about rain that seemed appropriate for the week after Pentecost. It is Holy Spirit Rain Down by Hillsong Worship.

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Rainbow over San Carlos Bay (2017)

Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down
Oh, Comforter and Friend
How we need your touch again
Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down.

Let your power fall
Let your voice be heard
Come and change our hearts
As we stand on your word.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard
No mind can know what God has in store
So open up heaven, open it wide
Over your church and over our lives.

The sun finally returned on Friday – the day I was leaving! It was a very different experience of Sanibel Island this year. I am grateful for the images I received and was able to record with my phone camera. The island shows its many shades of grey and gold that you find once the storms have passed.

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Sunset after the Storms (2017)

 

 

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