‘We’re being paid to do this?’ my friend Jen commented as we shared an afternoon of free time as part of our staff retreat. Every year, the generous Board of Donvale Christian College lets all staff members end Term 3 this way.
Instead of ending on Friday with the students like most schools, our last school day was on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday were set aside for the retreat. Jen was right in pointing out how amazing it is that for two days, our ‘work’ was to rest and enjoy.
Our Director of Christian Foundations, Vivienne Stapleton, organised the retreat and I want to thank her and our Board for three gifts that they gave through the retreat:
Our school is quite beautiful so we could have had our retreat there. That would have cost less and who would complain?
Instead, you blessed us by letting us spend two days and a night at Yarra Valley Estate, a beautiful space surrounded by the stunning Australian bush. Away from the busyness, away from the everyday, closer to stillness, to just being rather than doing.
Thank you for the gift of beautiful space.
At the end of the term when I just wanted to crash, stay home and do nothing, you knew better and gave me time to pause, reflect and be grateful. And there’s so much to thank God for!
As much as I love worshipping through singing, I think it was a beautiful way to start by choosing what we did with the time of worship – read, write, take communion, draw, or reflect.
Penny Martin’s talk on ‘Practicing The Way of Jesus for Refreshment and Discernment’ also gave us more time to just rest in God’s grace as she shared a few ideas on how we may be refreshed.
Looking around at the staff, it felt like we were all children in that space, connecting with our Father in Heaven – some of us reading and writing, praying and singing, taking photos, watching and listening, drawing and making, just being all there.
‘Wherever you are, be all there.’ – Jim Elliot
Thank you for the gift of time.
The last day’s topic was heavy, no doubt about it, ‘A Biblical view of Justice, Human Rights and Advocacy’. Issues on justice and human rights never seem uplifting and so I did wonder how I’d go and wondered how others would too.
Cheryl McCallum, our guest speaker, provided us with historical facts on the causes Christians fought and stood for – opposing infanticide in ancient Rome, the right to suffrage, the fight against slavery, establishing hospitals and schools… for all, not just for Christians.
So how did I go? Disturbed, perturbed, and rightly so. In what ways can I help alleviate the injustices in this world as my just God would want me to?
I loved hearing how the discussions convicted others in my group too. It was the perfect way to end the retreat.
To be challenged is a good thing. To have friends to discuss it with and keep me accountable is even better.
Cheryl ended by reminding us of our school motto, Micah 6:8, ‘What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’
How do we act justly? How do teach and show our students to act justly?
Oh, Lord, teach us and show us.
Make us act justly, towards all.
Thank you for the gift of a challenge.
What a great way to start the holidays! I am exceedingly grateful. Thank you.
I pray that more schools and companies may have a Board like ours.