by Barbara LaTondresse
(This blog is reposted from Barbara’s personal blog Night Lights and Morning Joys.)
I’m basking in the afterglow of our perfect weekend women’s retreat.
Over fifty Church of the Cross women gathered at Dunrovin Retreat Center on the St. Croix near Stillwater amid the emerging golden landscape for a stellar fall weekend blend of relaxation, rest, and renewal.
Our meditations centered around Psalm 1 where the Psalmist uses the image of a thriving tree as a symbol of vibrant spiritual growth.
Planted. Rooting. Reaching.
Taking root downward, Bearing fruit upward.
Over time the tree grows toward magnificent beauty despite rocks, drought, storm, disease.
At our retreat we divided into smaller groups to apply these truths in our lives personally. Three of the questions stood out to me and gave me worthy insights:
- Where am I planted this season?
- What rocks are my root system facing?
- Are my leaves absorbing the sun and nutrients necessary for the miracle of photosynthesis to happen in my soul?
On Christmas Eve 2013 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
I was told I had two options: either begin a life-preserving regimen of Parkinson’s meds or die.
I chose life, began the meds, and, thank God, slowly started to improve, but I’m still not what you would call ‘normal’.
I walk and speak with difficulty, have occasional pronounced tremors, left side mobility issues, and suffer lower back pain from the aftershock of a compression fracture.
I am planted in what I call my ‘land of limitations’.
It’s a phrase a friend coined to add to the depth of Psalms 37: 3-4 when his wife went thru a severe debilitating trial:
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land (of limitations) and cultivate faithfulness.
I embrace this truth daily as my faith in the Lord sustains me.
Our speaker shared a true story which powerfully illustrates this vital truth. During WWII a German war ship shot at another ship and it began to sink. Shortly after the Germans realized the wounded ship carried women and children only.
As their ship sank, the wives and children, en route to be with their husbands and fathers who were already at a mission site in-country, hurriedly boarded lifeboats and rowed themselves to the war ship for rescue.
During this difficult task as they rowed, they realized the soldiers had their guns pointed at them.
Fear washed over them as they approached closer and closer to the enemy ship, and surprisingly, one of the mothers started to sing:
Safe am I, Safe am I,
In the hollow of His hand;
Sheltered o’er, sheltered o’er
With His love forever more
No ill can harm me, No foe alarm me,
For He keeps both day and night,
Safe am I, Safe am I,
In the hollow of His hand.
Mildred Leightner Dillon
18 January 1938
Soon her children joined in the singing. Then others in other boats started to sing as a chorus of praise drifted upward in that dire situation giving them all courage in the face of danger and miraculously all boarded the war ship.
Rescued and safe.
A chorus of praise to God allowed miracles to happen for them then and it allows miracles to happen for me now.
Rooted, planted, dissolving rocks, and gaining spiritual nourishment to produce the unlikely fruits of joy and peace even in my land of limitations.
Safe am I. In the hollow of His hand.
Dillon, Mildred Leightner. “Tune: [Safe Am I, Safe Am I].” written 18 January 1938. Accessed in http://www.hymnary.org/tune/safe_am_i_safe_am_i_dillon>.. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2015. <