Monday, January 7, 2013

Weekend Retreat

I spent Friday night into Saturday at the annual Officers' Retreat for my church.  As an Elder, for three years now I have traveled the almost-two-hour road to the Golden Inn in Avalon, New Jersey, to attend budget meetings, prayer circles, and devotions, not to mention "mandatory fun" in the hotel bar with my fellow Elders and Deacons.

The getaway offers a change of venue, a change of pace, and a change of volume (no little girl voices for 24 hours!).

This year, the overarching theme of our brief retreat was "Making Connections and Being Connected."  Our pastor, Bill, pointed out that the greatest gift God gives us is Christ in each of us.  And Christ is in us in order for us to reach out and touch others.  Bill said that is why it is so meaningfuless when people say, "I'm spiritual, but not religious."  We are not simply spirits.  We are bodies, and as Christians we are the Body of Christ.  At the end of one session, he challenged us to consider:  How can I be with people in intentional ways?
At "mandatory fun" that evening, I had the opportunity to chat with a number of different people, but I spent most of the evening in a deep, personal conversation with one person.  Mealtimes brought opportunities to talk with people I had either not spoken to in awhile, or had not talked with in meaningful ways before.  Before leaving to drive home, I walked down to the beach with two other women, where we walked and talked and collected shells and driftwood together.  The journey to and from New Jersey gave me time to talk about all kinds of topics with the two women carpooling with me.  What a wonderful opportunity to connect and BE with people in intentional ways!
Blogging, too, though not the same as face-to-face interactions, gives me opportunities for intentional connections with people.  Lately, I've been just a little down-hearted at the slow-down in blog traffic, and not hearing from some of the readers who used to comment often on my posts.  But the connections I continue to make by visiting new blogs, and by hearing from those who take the time to comment, and by continuing to participate in swaps (and even now an art journal round-robin!) are valuable in quality if not numerous in quantity. 

What am I doing this for, anyway?  An in-box with a certain quota of comments, too many for me to respond to individually by email or even fully process before my next post?  Nope.  I am doing this for exactly the results I am getting now:  an opportunity to share what is going on in my life, with an emphasis on my creative explorations and development (which gives me an opportunity to think about and process it for myself); building relationships with a handful of amazing and like-minded women in different countries; finding projects and swaps and courses and challenges to continue my growth as an artist and a crafter.

It was both fun and helpful to find the theme of the annual retreat relevant to my online pursuits and my current train of thought!


Karen Isaacson said...

so true, Andria. It's all about the relationships. When I look at the incredibly popular blogs that I admire, I have to remind myself that I don't actually want blogging to be my job. I don't want pressure of pleasing my readers and creating exceptional content on a daily basis, and I don't want to write a business plan and go to blogging conferences. I just like meeting like-minded people, and sharing a laugh and a story and an idea. (and maybe some good mail!)
Your retreat sounds wonderfully restorative.

VivJM said...

What a lovely, thoughtful post Andria.
It's hard not to get hooked up on site stats, and wonder why other blogs are more popular...but then it's good to remind oneself about the quality over quantity thing & realise that a handful of loyal readers & thoughtful commenters is worth far more than just anonymous numbers.
As Karen says, it's all about the relationships.
I am so glad your retreat was so enriching to you.

laurie said...

i'm glad you had such a wonderful, thought-provoking weekend. a change of scenery often prompts us to look at our life from a different perspective. i agree that, in life and in blogging, quality is more important than quantity. said...

I wonder if possibly people expect certain things from certain blogs, e.g. art post from an art blog and may not appreciate it when other subjects are introduced? I try to keep my
"art" blog all art (ok, and then there's a bit of food....).
Also I think people have been much busier than normal with "the holidays". My stats are not down but man, the mail coming to my house sure is!

Adriann said...

Well said! I'm an extremely shy person and find it difficult to make friends IRL. Last year God answered my prayers by bringing Christian women into my life via the internet and pen paling. The bonds that I have formed are real and deep. Keep posting and we will come. :0 Happy New Year!

Parabolic Muse said...

Oh, wow! I think I know exactly what you mean about a decrease in comments. And, while I used to feel disheartened myself about the slide in readership (not just on my blog but seemingly on every blog), I now find myself one of the worst offenders. I have found so much getting in the way of my blog reading that it sometimes seems I will never keep up.

It's hard for us when we don't feel we are reaching people. But I've known enough bloggers and been blogging long enough to know that there are many more readers than there are commenters. For some reason, people just don't comment when they read. Either they are pressed for time, or they aren't reading at a venue where they can open the comments function, or else, they feel they have nothing to say of value. Please know that your blog is one of the destination blogs for me, even if I can't get here as often as I'd like.

scrapwordsmom said...

Well I think you know I am a reader for as long as you blog!! I have my computer back so expect more comments from ME!!!:)

What a wonderful way to spend time...with other like-minded people. Awesome:)


Carin Winkelman said...

It's easy to get disheartened when the comments are down. It happens to me too. But then I remember how many blogs I visit without commenting myself that I still thoroughly enjoy.

Also it's more about the quality than the quantity. Every now and then I will receive an incredible e-mail from a reader of my blog who never ever commented but shows me work that was inspired by mine or who claims to have been touched creatively or personally because of my little spot in the blogosphere. And then I think: Yes, yes, this is why I do this and I'm doing it right. Not to reach thousands on my pageviews count, but to touch a couple of individuals and really make a difference (no matter how small) in their creative lives. I just want people to express themselves creatively and not fear the process and I don't know any other way to do this than by getting over my own fears and insecurities.

If there's only one person who has a good time because of my blog, well that's just the most wonderful thing, isn't it? And I just know that there is way more than one person inspired by you, and I'm one of them!

Carin Winkelman said...

Forgot to say: those beach pictures could have been taken on my island! ;-)