Earlier this January, I stayed at the River House in Monroe, MI as I was hosted as a leader for a day of creative reflection and growth. This day served IHM Sisters, associates and community members. I was honestly excited to see Sister Paula again, but little did I know she would be the one to greet me as I arrived to Riverhouse.
If you could imagine old friends greeting one another with hugs that is how it was with Sister Paula when I realized it was her emerging from the dark Friday night I drove in to welcome me. I had only met Sister Paula one other time over lunch at another event I led at the Dominican Center in Grand Rapids, MI but you would never know it by the way I clung onto a familiar face in the embrace of a hug.
When I drove up to the house, honestly, the first thing I thought was...
Whoa this is a big house there better not be any spirits in this thing.
After Sister Paula so graciously welcomed me to her home for an unexpected dinner of pizza and mixed berry pie with her house mate and dog, I realized I had to make my way back this house in the dark. I could not be more grateful for the welcome I received in an unexpected space. When I entered the large empty house where I learned Priests once stayed I quickly dead bolted the door and walked around not going down into the basement, or stairs or opening other doors. After making some tea I spent my evening sitting in a way that I could face my bedroom door, which was attached to an art room.
I noticed in that space there were art materials, my favorite combination of tea (peppermint and Meijer’s decaf green tea that I drink three cups every night) and books. I gazed through the books and saw two names I was familiar with- Shaun McNiff and Pat Allen. Books I had read in graduate school and people I have met in person and had breakfast with in the past. I laughed and thought how could I be scared- I’m among friends.
Thumbing through the books and making art quickly made me remove the fear of “spirits” and strange noises I once heard. I was in the one room with two beds and I thought well I’m having a sleepover with God. I moved the bath towels off His bed to make sure there was room for Him to rest. Even though I locked my room before I went to sleep I realized that they may not be “haunted spirits” in this house but rather angels in this house. .
Yes, I slept wonderfully and woke up to the sun caving into my window over the river in silence. I clung to those books at night and brought them to the day with me and shared my comfort I found last night. One of the fellow Sisters shared how I was brave to stay in that home alone because she has been scared there on her own by all the noises she heard. I laughed and shared when you’re comforted by angels, making art, having a sleep over with God and among friends there was nothing to fear.
Wherever life may lead you whether it be a large empty quiet house to yourself or the unknown I hope you are able find comfort in the most unexpected spaces. Our imaginations can fuel our fears and it can also fuel our comfort too. It’s sort of like a superpower as hard as it may be I hope you are able to use it to your advantage and find your comfort in faith, imagination and creativity.
The River House is an amazing space for respite, connection to the self or space for a retreat more information can be found here: River House