God is ever-present.

This lesson was the focus of Merry Lea’s “Out of the Whirlwind: A Woman’s Spirituality Retreat” on January 23 and 24. This was the 3rd annual retreat held by Merry Lea.

“Out of the Whirlwind” comes from text in the book of Job, where God speaks to Job, using vibrant imagery to offer perspective on reaching solace in places of uncertainty.  The text hones in on creation imagery, fitting in with Merry Lea’s environmental mission.

Merry Lea’s website describes the retreat as a place for women to “step out of the whirlwind and make space to listen for God’s voice”

The description continues, “gather together with women of all ages to rest in a beautiful winter setting, learn from inspiring presenters and workshops, and connect with nature on a crisp night hike”.

The retreat aimed for women to gather in a place that provided spiritual rejuvenation while interacting with God’s creation—specifically after the hectic holiday season.

“Women come from all over the place: students/faculty or staff from Goshen College and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, mentor/mentees come in pairs from local churches (not necessarily Mennonite), and this year was a first: we had a group of 6 Amish women join us,” said Janie Krieder, one of the Merry Lea employees running the event.

The retreat began at 7 p.m. on Friday and concluded on Saturday at 12 p.m. Registration for the even was $40 before January 3, and $50 after that date. Registration included activities, lodging, and food.

Jackie Wyse-Rhoades, a professor at Bluffton University, led the biblical speaking on Friday evening, before the night concluded with a meditative night hike.

On Saturday, the retreat focused on prayer and other spiritual practices, led by Jennifer Schrock and Beck Krieder. The rest of the day was open for reflection and relaxation.

Deanna Risser, a woman who attended the event, describes the weekend, highlighting, “[There was a] keynote presentation by Jackie Wyse-Rhodes, good food [some provided by Merry Lea Sustainable Farm], a night hike, a Lectio Devina led by Janie Beck Kreider, workshops led by Jennifer Schrock [both on staff at Merry Lea], conversations, and relaxation.”

Other Goshen College faculty and students attended the retreat, including Rose Shetler, Beth Martin Birky, Jenna Lee, and Sherry Wenger.

“This year was kind of interesting in that we had less GC students in attendance than any other year we’ve run the retreat,” said Krieder.

“[During the retreat,] I learned more about the book of Job, enjoyed interacting with other women, and was reminded that God is ever-present,” said Risser.