By: Laren Butler
Corhaven Summer Intern – 2018
At the end of spending last summer as the intern at Corhaven, I sat down to write some reflections on my time. Some of them follow.
At the beginning of the summer, I wrote out a list of different things that I wanted to learn about including: sacramental worship, practices of deepening prayer life, connection between the physical body and my spiritual self, and lots more. Looking back at this list, I can say with utter confidence that God saw my expectations and exceeded them tenfold. He met me in those desires and revealed to me so much more, through reading, conversations with Bill, Tara, and others, time with Him, and simply observation of my surroundings.
A conversation with Bill at the beginning of the summer led me to pursue “different” forms of communion with the Lord. Worship left me feeling a lack of something. Scripture left me with frustration rather than peace. Time in community left me exhausted rather than exhilarated as it had before. I felt the Lord was calling me into seeing Him in a new way. This in turn has birthed a new love for liturgy and solitude and the contemplative life.
Solitude was once something that was nearly toxic for me. In Invitation to Solitude and Silence I was introduced to healthy practices when in those spaces of solitude that helped dig deeper with the Lord and in myself. In Space for God I was able to teach my heart and my mind the value of having this time with the Lord and the beauty it truly brings. Now, at the end, I can joyfully say that I love leading a more contemplative life. This ended up being one of the very “new ways of experiencing the Lord” that my heart was yearning for and that God was pushing me into.
About midway through the summer, in talking about creation, we kind of scratched the surface of why God created, well, creation. Through what is revealed through scripture and the mere nature of humanity, there is a sliver of understanding that I have taken away: we are image-bearers of the Lord. As followers of Him, we are called to be like him.
This is where my summer truly took off; what I have been referring to as “when things started to click.” What I had been doing the whole time (i.e. creation care, hospitality, spending countless hours in solitude, spending time with children, learning how to be more of myself as God made me) started to make sense within the framework of creation and the Kingdom of God.
One of my favorite books for the summer was Making Peace with the Land. I distinctly remember getting out my journal after reading only the prologue and writing “this book has changed my life and how I will live from this day forth.” Pretty hefty words for such few pages! But I still mean every word. Later in the summer while the Haley family was off on vacation, I was left alone with the animals, the garden, and my thoughts. Yes, I missed having people around, but not once did I feel lonely.
Over the summer, the Holy Spirit dug deeper into areas of growth and struggle to put down good roots and remove toxic ones on how to be what God intended me to be in the design of the body of Christ. He has pushed me into a posture of gratitude for the way He created me. Outwardly, I was able to learn new skills and develop giftings the Lord gave me and in turn learned how to utilize those to glorify the Lord and hopefully manifest a little bit of his glory to bring the Kingdom where I am. Inwardly, I was able to see that that glorification is really the purpose of it all; I want to be a little Jesus walking around this earth because He is worth it, and that is what He asks of us. Also, this is why I am supposed to be ME, not anybody else. I cannot glorify the Lord if I am too busy trying to be someone I’m not. I am a daughter of the Almighty Creator.
So what has this internship really been for me? It’s been, amazing. Quiet. Peaceful. Holy. Frustrating. Exciting. Full of Shalom. More than I ever expected. Corhaven, and Coracle, really is a place that promotes spiritual formation for Kingdom action. I can truly say that I have been “spiritually formed” over this summer.
Update: Laren has since graduated from UVA and is working in a social work clinic in Charlottesville. Congrats Laren!