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With Love, Hope, and Perseverance

Serving at Cursillo: a Spiritual Weekend



Trinity Center pond

My weekend was intense, busy, and very social. I knew it would be outside my comfort zone, but I was asked to be on the music team, and I wanted to give back for all the blessings I’ve received. Leaning heavily toward introversion, I’m more comfortable finding my spiritual moments alone in quiet places, but thankfully, I found God in many varied moments during my four days serving at “EC 95” (The 95th Cursillo weekend of the East Carolina Episcopal Diocese.)

Cursill is a three day adventure for 20 pilgrims who are there to learn about Christian leadership and to be loved and served by the team. One of the common experiences shared by pilgrims was a deeper relationship with Jesus and one another. As a team member serving the pilgrims, I felt this deepening, too. Even with the lack of sleep from late nights and early mornings, even with my occasional discomfort from being around  many people who I didn’t know well, I felt the deepening. I felt the love for people who became family.

It helped that our Cursillo weekend was held at Trinity Center, a place close to nature and close to my heart, where they build around the trees.

Tree in deck

Trinity is an Episcopal retreat center nestled on the North Carolina coast between Bogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunset at Sander's Point (2)

ocean from the pavilion

One of my favorite places at Trinity Center, besides the beach….  and the sound….. and the pond….

pond throug trees (3)

Trinity Center pond

…is the tunnel that runs under the main road and leads to the beach.

tunnel sign

tunnel entrance

tunnel with turtle

The tunnel is a great place to sing. Imagine the echo. Or is it called reverb?

On Friday afternoon, as I walked the wooded road to my room during a short break, I stopped to admire the light shining through the leaves ahead.

path of connection with Mom and Dad (2)

It was here that I felt the powerful and undeniable presence of my parents. They “told” me (in feelings more than words) of their joy that I was there serving with my husband, and that they are proud of us both. My parents had a long history of ministry in soup kitchens and working with veterans. This is the first time I’ve felt them both together since my father died in January. The confirmation that they are together still makes my heart sing.

djembe purple background

I finally got me a Djembe!

And I did a lot of singing at Cursillo. As part of the music team, I sang, played my guitar, and got to experiment with the new drum I bought for this occasion.

Cursillo music is mostly folksy with some contemporary praise songs. When somebody requested “Wade In the Water,” we had to hunt for the music because it wasn’t on our song list. But it turned out to be such a big hit, we sang this powerful spiritual three times during the weekend. This article explains that “Harriet Tubman used the song “Wade in the Water” to tell escaping slaves to get off the trail and into the water to make sure the dogs slavecatchers used couldn’t sniff out their trail.” 

The following arrangement, while different than the simple version we sang, gives a feeling close to what I felt during our closing service singing with about 50 people and three guitars as I kept a strong, steady beat on my drum.

In spite of the intensity, I’m thankful to have served at EC 95. But some day,  I want to go to Trinity Center just to relax. I bet I’ll do some singing and wading, too.

Silver beach (2)

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

25 thoughts on “Serving at Cursillo: a Spiritual Weekend

  1. Sounds like a great retreat! I will have to look into this. I went on a spiritual retreat this weekend too in North Carolina and it was incredible 🙂 Love that they have places like this around to escape for the weekend!

    • I love how NC has mountains on one end and ocean on the other. Enjoyed the post of your adventure! Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Courtney!

  2. What a beautiful weekend! Awesome pictures, a respite with our Lord!! Thank you for sharing🌞!

  3. So glad to have met you and serve on team together. Everything you wrote about Trinity Center is so true. It is a spiritual setting and it calms the soul. Look forward to seeing you and David again. DeColores!

    • Serving on team was most special and something I will never forget. Yes, Trinity does calm the soul! I’m so thankful they try to keep it the way God created it. Thanks for stopping by and connecting here. DeColores!

  4. Joanne…your gifts with music and the printed word are equally amazing. Serving with you and David was a true blessing. One of the immense joys of being
    on the team is widening the circle of people who have just attended the weekend, creating new friendships and cementing old one’s…all Christ Centered. What Joy! Being from Jacksonville, I knew your parents, especially your Mom through our connections with Onslow Community Ministry.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this! I feel greatly blessed by your support and affirmation. It means a lot that you knew and worked with my parents. I value this connection.

  5. Sounds wonderful! Very happy for you.

  6. Well that sounds fulfilling, even if it was more social than your norm. The pictures are lovely 🙂

  7. The photograph which was magical was your second one with a crooked tree in the picture with lavendars, pinks and reds in the sky. Joanne, so glad you enjoyed your time at the retreat. My original church was Episcopal, from childhood through my first marriage. 🙂

    • I do love that picture. Thanks for appreciating it’s magic. 🙂 The Episcopal church seems to be the best fit for me, though a church outside in nature would really grab me. Maybe that’s why I love Trinity Center.

  8. I am here apologizing again. Your name is extra special and don’t mean to disrespect it. Hope you will see an improvement, JoAnna. 🙂 Bless you!

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