Thank you to Charlene McCreight for providing the photos and for the “Traveling Troupe” from Trinity Episcopal in Ashland for their reflection.

On May 20, members of the Episcopal Church Women of the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon gathered at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Grants Pass for their Spirituality Day. “The day’s theme, The Everyday Desert, proved fruitful ground for the homilist, the keynoter, and a number of workshop leaders,” said the Traveling Troupe, a group of three women from Trinity Episcopal Church in Ashland. “The workshops were centered on meeting the spiritual challenge of our daily, dry,  lonely spaces.”

The day began with a welcome ceremony, lighting three candles on behalf of the women who have gone before, the women of today, and the women of the future.

The Rev. Ernestein Flemister, Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and Missioner for Racial Reconciliation for ECWO, delivered the sermon at the opening Eucharist, inviting attendees into the Gospel story alongside the nameless woman in John 8:2-11, who she named Gladee. Jeanne Podolske, Director of the St. Rita’s Retreat House in Medford, delivered the keynote address drawing on Jeremiah 29 and II Corinthians 3. “With those two citations sparking through the room,” the troupe said, “Ms. Podolske (with Paul) urged us to ‘act with boldness.’”

Throughout the day, attendees had a choice of workshops on a variety of topics, including Anglican Prayer Beads, Labyrinths, Centering Prayer, Racial Reconciliation, Tai Chi, and more. Each workshop “offered ways for the self to survive in the desert and those more actively addressing the state in which our world finds itself,” said the troupe. “The food offered was bountiful and delicious. The fellowship was warm and not enough.”

The day ended with a closing candle ceremony, the ECW prayer, comments from the ECW president Charlene McCrieght, and an offering from Hana Rubens, a member from Grants Pass:

The Everyday Desert is peopled with demands 
life makes on those who walk 
a way of prayer and challenge.
It is a pathless way
with faith a dark lamp that shines out
one step ahead
of me.

The mission of the Episcopal Church Women is to “celebrate and empower women in all of God’s ministries.” Learn more about the Episcopal Church Women here.

You can read the Traveling Troupe’s full reflection from Trinity, Ashland’s newsletter, here.