Testimony: One Person's Experience of Last Year's Retreat for Ministers to Artists

I have a report I want to write on my time at Calvin College's worship symposium. It will have to wait, though, till later in the week. I need to catch up on schoolwork. In the meantime I want to post a testimony by Terri Fisher. Terri is a good friend who attended last year's "Ministers to Artists" retreat. I asked her to write up her reflections, and this is her lovingly rendered essay. I'm very grateful to her. I do hope this will help any folks who are still trying to decide whether to come to the retreat--especially those who doubt whether they properly fit the "pastor" category.

We're shy of one month away. March 4 is just around the corner. There is still space to sign up, however, but not that much, so if in doubt, do come because the very worst that could happen to you is that you'd experience a very restful weekend in a refreshing setting of physical beauty.


I love an open freeway with the scenery of southwest Texas flying past, as I drive into the setting sun. In October of 2008 I was headed west on I-10. My destination was the tranquil place known as Laity Lodge, just a little past Kerrville, Texas. Alone in the car I asked myself what in the world I was doing! I barely knew David Taylor and I felt completely unqualified to be attending a retreat for artists. How would I explain my existence to anyone who might ask? I was, after all, just a middle-aged woman praying for direction after my busy nest of motherhood had emptied. For an hour and a half, the scenery flew by and I concentrated on praying away my traveling companions: Fear and Doubt.

Arriving at the Laity Lodge entrance, I tentatively guided my car down the steep canyon road, around sharp bends, and finally to a dead end at the river bed. Really? I knew the directions said to turn left onto the riverbed... but really? As I signaled a left hand turn (to alert the fish of my entrance into their world, I guess) it felt like a baptism. The riverbed, out of sight but rock solid, was waiting. I rolled the windows down and listened to the flowing water lap and splash around the tires. For a half a mile, my anxiety was being carried away in the opposite direction my car was headed. That was only a foretaste.

Grace best describes my first retreat at Laity Lodge. Rather than feeling like I didn’t belong, the artists welcomed me. Rather than feeling an outsider, I felt embraced. When someone would ask me what I did, I replied tentatively that I prayed for artists. Their gratitude and excitement gave me the courage to speak those words with more and more confidence in the coming months. My life has been enriched, expanded, and transformed at both the retreats I’ve attended at Laity Lodge. (And it goes way beyond the delicious food they serve you everyday, the welcoming staff, the comfortable accommodations, and the absolute serenity of the place!)

In April 2009 I once more crossed the threshold of the Frio riverbed (again, signaling the fish before my turn) to join a wonderful group of people who had accepted the call to shepherd artists. Our bodies were nourished, our hearts encouraged, and our souls enriched through worship, discussion, prayer, and opportunity to be still before the Lord. Our pastoral tool boxes were filled with excellent teaching given by Mako Fujimura and David Taylor—both artists, both shepherds. I can’t speak for every single person, but I left the serene setting of Laity Lodge better equipped for my calling to shepherd artists. And it’s a good thing, because the Lord has blessed my heart’s desire to serve artists in lay ministry. I could not have done it without the teaching and encouragement I’ve received from the ministry of Laity Lodge.

In March there will be another retreat specifically targeting shepherds of artists. If you find yourself with a heart longing to pray for the artists in your life, but like me, feel hesitant about what your role might be, banish the companions of Fear and Doubt and join me in attending the upcoming retreat, March 4th-7th. The teaching will be nourishing to your soul and the fellowship unforgettable.


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