Mar 13, 2018

Reflections on Mennonite Church Alberta Women's Retreat

Recently I was asked "What is so special about the MCA women’s retreat?" 

I remember as a child, my mom leaving us kids in my father’s care (or sometimes an aunt and uncle), in order to go to “Women’s Conference”.  We had a big family, and for my mom to take time away from it was something unheard of.  What was important enough for her to do that?  
Now many years later, I can only be grateful that the continuing opportunity for women to come together in a spiritual and social venue has stood the test of time.  It is still a valuable and worthy event!

I started coming to the retreat only four years ago.  I didn’t really know what to expect, and never having been to one before, wasn’t even sure it was something I should take time away from the home front to do.  A couple of ladies from my church were involved in the music portion of the weekend and encouraged me to come along.  What I found that weekend was something I had not had in my life for a long time.  And people I knew later told me that they saw a side to me they had never seen before.

It was a place to be free:  free from the daily responsibilities as a mother (it took some planning, and I admit some letting go, to make arrangements for the family), free to be served instead of serving (meals provided, a soft bed with sheets I wouldn’t have to launder), free to laugh without fear of appearing silly (silliness was embraced), free to enjoy the part of me which loves learning (4 sessions in 3 days), free to be vulnerable with sisters in Christ (opening up and getting real with each other).  It was the closest thing to what I remembered dorm-life at Bible School to be.

I was reunited with a number of ladies I hadn’t seen for years, and introduced to many new and wonderful other ladies.  Over the years, I’ve begun to enter into a unique relationship with many of these ladies whom I only see once or twice a year, and we just pick up where we left off.  There is something about being together for these three days with common goals, and learning, praying, and having fun together that is just so bonding.  Even though we come from many different backgrounds, and are of different ages, it just feels so natural and right. 

I come away from retreat each time feeling a little more comfortable in my own skin, and empowered to make life more meaningful and purposeful; I’m often invigorated to continue the field of study the guest speaker has introduced.  I encourage anyone to come and experience whatever it is that God is bringing to you.  If you need laughter, you will find much to laugh about and an easy crowd to tell your jokes to.  If you need to feel God’s love through a sister, there will be someone there who has walked a road similar to you and will feel your pain.  If you need to be taken care of, you will not have to cook a meal or clean a toilet.  If you need quiet and introspection, you will find a time and place.  If you need a creative outlet, there’s opportunity provided. If you need spiritual depth, you will not come away empty.  If you need fellowship, it will be there in abundance. 
While my mom never shared what went on at “Women’s Conference”, I’m sure she had many of the same experiences. There really is something special that only happens at retreat.  I encourage you to find out what that something special is for you.

~ Laura Wiebe

(Laura attends Trinity Mennonite Church in Calgary, AB and is serving her second year on the Retreat Committee.)

2017 MCA Women's Retreat Poster
Guest speaker Sara Wenger Shenk, 
President of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Photos from the 2017 MCA Women's Retreat

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