Like most women at Michigan Park, Alesha Dominique has a lot on her plate. Managing a husband, three children, and a demanding career is a tough balancing act. She couldn’t imagine adding anything else to her busy schedule. Yet her interest was piqued one Sunday when she heard about the Healing: Beside Still Waters Women’s Retreat from another member.
Michigan Park’s Beside Still Waters Retreat had been planned for October 27-29, 2017, at Sandy Cove Resort in North East, Maryland. It was the second year the retreat was being held by the Beside Still Waters Ministry, which also hosts women’s social and prayer gatherings, and a book club reading series throughout the year.
“I didn’t know about the retreat,” Alesha says. “It had been a busy summer. We traveled every weekend. The kids had activities. I had work, but when I was asked if I was going on the retreat, it connected with me in the moment.” She didn’t sign up for the event that day, but it stayed in the back of her mind.
The next Sunday, Lady Barbara approached her about attending and she registered on the spot. “My decision was made easy because of those personal interactions. I’d been a member of Michigan Park for seven years but hadn’t gone to the women’s events. It’s different when someone invites you.”
In the days that followed, Alesha almost talked herself out of going because of her hectic schedule. Then, she was asked to bring along a young lady who had missed the bus to Sandy Cove. That was when she realized God wanted her to go, although as a “retreat novice,” she struggled with being outside her comfort zone.
A single occurrence allayed her concerns the moment she arrived. After hoping to secure a private room, she was surprised to learn right before the trip that she had been assigned not one, but two roommates. The space included one full bed and two singles. Alesha was the last to arrive, but her roommates had chosen the single beds and saved the full-sized bed for her. Their act of kindness set the tone for the remainder of the weekend, and Alesha soon discovered just how divinely God had orchestrated her placement in the room.
“One of the moms in my room had kids who had gone to the same school as mine. We ended up staying up late talking about education. Our other roommate was a DC social worker, and one of them even helped me with an issue I was having with a teacher.”
Amid the sisterly bonding, the women attended a range of workshops and activities, but it was the closing session on grief that touched Alesha most. She says grief isn’t a topic that is close to her, but calls the content “real and digestible.” She notes that the biggest highlight of her weekend was being still. “I don’t always make space and time to sit,” she says. “The retreat gave me time to have an intimate, honest conversation with God that I don’t think I’ve had in years.”
Now that she can reflect on the experience, Alesha has nothing but positive things to say. “I had the best time. I was upset with myself for not going before. It felt like a gift. It was phenomenal.” When asked if she would attend another women’s retreat, her voice filled with excitement. “I absolutely would go again.” She says that her approach now is that life will have to work around the Beside Still Waters Retreat the next time, with no excuses.
“I was telling my husband that I should have adjusted my life to be on the bus with the other women. You never know how transformative the stuff you casually dismiss can be.”
To learn more about Michigan Park Christian Church’s women’s ministry events and Beside Still Waters Retreats, visit www.michiganparkcc.com, the Beside Still Waters Facebook page or call our church office at 202-526-3355.