Sojourner

It matters to me to tell you how displaced I have been for months. Displaced. Let's define the word first.

dis·placed

adjective
1. lacking a home, country, etc.
2.moved or put out of the usual or proper place.
For several months, I have not recognized my life. I've been moving quickly. I've been displaced by a fire of epic proportions and moved away to root ourselves in the soil of our retreat. We've left our home and in some ways, we feel like we've left our country. I'm feeling like I am in a new place--defining a new home and carving out for myself a new life. I blogged yesterday on Living the Life you most want to live. That's a question that is nagging in me right now.
Even my roles have changed in recent months. I find myself being a grandfather which stirs feelings I never knew existed. I'm sitting in the small room of a log cabin used for washing and drying clothes and yesterday, found myself a small wooden desk in which I'm sitting here looking out a tattered window with a torn screen. This new exit from my old life to a new one I am trying to define is causing us to re-think nearly everything. A place for that. A cleansing of our acquired stuff because their are simply no closets--and now no closets even to my soul.
So, today I have finally taken the necessary time to put words to feelings and to put phrases to soulful longings. What came out is this-- a  new poem.  I will share it with you now.
Sojournerby Stephen W. SmithSeptember 7, 2012 I am a sojourner who has been for too long, away from home.Distant lands have beckoned me and I have heeded their voices.The names of the lands do not matter now but what matters more is the gap.I am a modern day prodigal and I have left the hands, which wait to bless me. Those hands I have wanted for so long upon my shoulder--upon my life.I have longed to be carried rather than toil this arduous journey so alone.Yet, now do I know that those hands have been underneath me all along.Sweet Presence-- though I did not want to be carried at times. I am moving towards home.To that place where I belong and where I am received without shame and blame.With tattered heart and ragged soul, I sense you now moving towards me.Please, my God find me and in your arms left me now fall. Receive my confession and hear my cry.Words pulling up my soul to tell you the truth.My tears are my baptism pool to be cleansed once again.Open wide the door to home and receive me unto yourself.

The Prayer Trail

Up at our retreat, we've created a trail which meanders throughout the 35 acres at Potter's Inn at Aspen Ridge. This unique trail takes you on a journey where you're invited to sit on twelve different benches to think, pray, ponder and consider.  Each bench has a different name and there is a guide available to all the pilgrims who choose to wander the trail.Here's an overview of the benches along the trail:1. The Gates. This bench is the first one and is located in a small 1/2 pasture that is lined with a fence around the grassy pasture. Here you sit and imagine going through the gates to God--to Jesus, our true companion.2. Preparation. This bench prepares you for the journey ahead. You stop, get ready and focus on PREPARING for the next steps of life. Here fathers have brought their sons; mothers bring their daughters to prepare for next steps into adulthood. People in vocational wilderness sit here to prepare for the next step in considering work. There are many events in life to prepare for.3. Contemplation is the name of the 3rd bench. It's by our ever changing lake at the retreat. You contemplate your relationship with God, spouse, friends and consider aspects of life that need some attention.4. The Ascent marks the journey up hill. Here you walk in a switchback manner up the mountain. You can read some of the Psalms of Ascent that the Psalmist wrote in our uphill times in life.5. The Cleft is my favorite bench. It's a rock that is split into by thousands of years of wear and weather. You're invited to sit in the cleft of the rock and imagine yourself being held by God. A nearby rock makes an altar ready to present some offering to God--perhaps yourself. Some have laid there and given their hearts to God.6. The Confession Bench is next. It's  a place where couples have sat and had long talks of confession which led to restoring intimacy in their relationships. Friends have sat here and confessed issues causing division. Sons ask for forgiveness from their fathers and daughters from their mothers. It's a hard bench to sit on sometimes.7. Adoration is at the Summit at 9,000 ft in elevation. Here you can see 3 mountain ranges and the most amazing of all are the Sangre de Cristo, the Blood of Christ Mountains, so named by the Spanish Conquistadors who said the mountains glow like blood in the sunrise and sunset. They actually do on clear days! It's a place of thanksgiving, worship and praise.8. Companionship is the bench in the midst of the grove of Aspens. Aspens never grow alone. They grow in community--as do healthy souls. Here friends go to talk, bond and connect.9. The Longing Bench, the most loved and hated bench of the Prayer Trail. You sit and work through your longings. Single women have spit upon this bench while some have renewed long, forgotten yearnings and desires of living a life of no regret.10. Perspectives: The place where you can regain perspective. Sometimes in life, you can't see the trees for the forest. At this place, in open spaces with 100 miles views, you can see forever and clear your head and heart.11. The Valley: In the midst of the journey down hill, the Valley bench is there for those of us going throug difficult and challenging times. Placed in a geographical cocoon of hills, you are surrounded and enclosed to consider the dark nights of your soul.12. The Erosion Bench: What do we lose as we gain? This bench forces you to consider things along the journey of life that you might have lost that you may need to reclaim, let go of, release and turn over to God.Signs along the way cause you to consider a thought and to help you focus.Prayer Trail guides and the Donation box are located in the brand new "Outdoor Recreation Center" just inside the Gates at the beginning of the Prayer Trail.Come and visit us at the Prayer Trail and walk it alone or with a friend or small group! To ensure your solitude, please make a reservation through the Potter's Inn Office: 719-264-8837