I have participated in Equipper Conference three times before. So about three months ago when I received a retreat invitation from JCFN, I assumed it’s going to be wonderful and decided to register for it, even before knowing what exactly C-WIT was about. It was also convenient for me that the venue this time will be in Northern California, where I could commute from my house. But I found out in the last part of registration that the venue was in fact the church I attend every week. I was a little bit disappointed by this, because it just made it seem like a part of my regular routine, rather than out of the ordinary. But then again, if I changed the way I look at it, it’s easier for me to ask my family to hold down the fort at home, when I’m going to a place only 10 minutes away by car. So I came to attend C-WIT with a positive expectation.
When I arrived at the venue, I saw fabulous faces from JCFN like Setsu, Yuko, and Sachi Nakamura at the church we always go to, and that alone made it feel very special and I was buoyant.
However as I listened to the instruction, I found out that it was a silent retreat. Even during lunch, we were to eat alone in silence without chatting with anybody else. After that, we were supposed to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon to quieten our hearts in silence. I was taken aback by all this, because it was completely different from my expectations of passionate worship, prayer, and fellowship like I experienced in the Equipper Conference.
The morning session by Sachi started as I was still feeling somewhat disconcerted. During her talk, Sachi said: “You each probably have expectations you brought to this retreat. But please set that aside for now. God is already pleased by the fact that you offered the whole day and came together here.” This touched me deeply, because I have 9 and 4 years old sons and normally Saturdays are very busy with different activities and other house chores. It would have been very difficult to spend the whole day at this retreat without the help of my husband. Still I felt bad to say that I made a significant effort to make time to participate, when other participants came on an airplane or drove over an hour to get here. I also felt a bit guilty to have just shown up and didn’t help for set-up even though I was a member of the church where the venue was.
Despite all that, as I was pondering quietly after Sachi’s talk, I felt God was gazing through even the petty guilt I was feeling.
At the same time, I realized I constantly had a switch turned on in my head that said “I have to do something”, and never had time time to be still. I have a preschool age child at home, and we are spending time together just about all the time; caring for children, doing house chores, occasionally listening to my husband (lol)… It was evident that my mind was never at rest and I was exhausted.
Therefore the lunch in silence turned out to a bliss during which nobody interrupted my time. The church’s social hall where it’s normally filled with people was filled with silence. It was magical. I was able to actually savor the flavors in delicious salad. I didn’t have to worry about people around, and didn’t even think about fun topics of conversation. I was just looking at a beautiful view outside and consider the wonder of God who created all of it. Then I felt enormous joy bubbling out of my heart. Until now, my conversation with God was a one-sided projection of my worries and pleas such as for my need to have alone time, my family’s health, my future vision and wish for solutions for all these issues. But since I have arrived at this retreat and let go of these issues for the time being to bring my little self before God, the view I’ve always seen and even the taste of a meal were transformed.
After lunch we were taken to a nearby rose garden. We each went separate ways there and spent our time on our own: Beautiful roses, their sweet fragrance, blue California sky, people in a wedding, a small baby toddling… All these seemed like a sight full of hope and brought joy to my heart again.
I was so glad I could attend C-WIT this time. My biggest take-away was that even after returning to my busy life, I have learned to stop time to time to take a deep breath and be still, and be reminded of beautiful things around me that God has created, and also that I’m loved by the same God and being sustained by Him.
Below is November event info.
◎JCFN de OCHA-LUNCH (Tokyo)
Time: Every Thursday 11:30~13:30
Location: JCFN Japan Office
◎Simple Fellowship (Tokyo)
Time: Sunday, November 3rd 18:30〜
Contact: E-mail (Ai Masaki)
Time: Saturday, November 30th 13:00〜16:00
Location: Crossroad International Church
Contact: Event Page
◎Living Water (Los Angeles)
Time: Every 4th Friday
Location: Victory Church in Pasadena
Contact:: Ministry Page
Time: Every 4th Saturday
Location: ISI House
Contact: Ministry Page
Time: Saturday, November 16th
Location: Moody Bible Institute
Contact: Ministry Page
Hi everyone, this is Megumix.
Recently a big typhoon went through Japan and left a lot of scars. There are a lot of people still in evacuation centers, and it’s starting to get really cold all of a sudden. Please remember those who are dealing with physical and emotional pain right now, and let’s join in with others around the world who are praying.
In today’s blog, we’re going to discuss the JCFN sponsored retreat, C-WIT. In Japan, we recently held C-BBWIT that has the same content, but today we’ll share about the one that was held in Northern California.
C-WIT was planned by Sachi Nakamura (JCFN board member and spiritual counselor), Yuko Ozeki (JCFN staff), Yumi Shimada, and Makiko Nakao. Of these, I interviewed Makiko Nakao.
It was the first time for us to talk to each other and I was pretty nervous, so please imagine that as you read haha
Megumix: So let’s get right to it. What is C-WIT?
Makiko: It’s an abbreviation for Contemplative WIT (Whatever It Takes), and it’s a silent retreat for Christians. Sachi Nakamura came from Chicago to be our speaker. C-WIT was held twice in Chicago and once in LA in the past, so this time here in Northern California was the fourth time.
Megumix: A silent retreat… What exactly do you do?
Makiko: The program is about one full day, from morning until night. Lunch is held in silence.
Megumix: Really? What is that about?
Makiko: Basically, you just don’t talk. The minestrone soup we ate there was really good!
Megumix: But…you can’t comment about how good the food is with the people around you?
Makiko: That’s right. We stayed focused on our own thoughts and impressions and were able to enjoy the ingredients and colors that we might normally have overlooked. Through that, we were able to practice hearing God’s still, small voice.
Megumix: I see. So it was a different experience than eating while fellowshipping with the people around you. What else did you do?
Makiko: In the afternoon, people took walks and painted stones, writing what they thought so far. There were also Scripture coloring pages.
Megumix: It seems like this program was planned so that people can interact with God while creating something or enjoying the scenery around them. How did you feel as a participant?
Makiko: For one thing, I think that people expect results when they do something, and they also expect the value that comes with those results. There are times that this value comes from other people, and times when it comes from oneself. However, I learned to let go of those results, rely on God, and joyfully walk with Jesus.
One more thing was that I was simply happy to experience that time! I know that between work and serving God, many of us are very busy. I think that sometimes we are joyful when we serve, but other times we push ourselves without realizing. We especially want people who feel that way to experience a time of silence.
Makiko, thank you for the interview.
Thinking back on the interview, the thing that stuck with me the most was when Makiko talked about Sachi teaching that if you want to be blessed or receive something at the retreat, you first need to let go. It’s true that when we do things, we are thinking, “If I do this much, then I’ll receive this much result,” or “Since I wasn’t able to do anything, there’s nothing worth taking.” Therefore, when we love someone else or receive love from God, we unfortunately start to think about cost performance.
It’s important for all of us who think that way to spend time in silence and solitude and turn our hearts to God in order to be released from those ways of thinking and to receive God’s priceless love for us as we live for Him.
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