Mike Cope's blog

Thursday, December 08, 2005

All signals in my life have been pointing to one thing: that I need to go deeper. Deeper in prayer, deeper in scripture, deeper in heart, deeper in insights about my emotions (and why I do certain things), etc. In response to this, I just spent the last couple days at the Parish Hermitage. Eddie Parish is a dear friend and has been a trusted spiritual guide through the years. A Ph. D. in psychology from Florida State and a former faculty member in ACU's marriage and family program, he and Judy now run this retreat center between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. I couldn't have spent a couple better days. The hermitage is located on 24 wooded acres, nestled against a classic Louisiana bayou. The idea is to combine reflection and prayer with nature and relationship. People who go are invited into the Parishes' home each evening for dinner with them and their children. Though Eddie is a therapist, it doesn't feel like therapy. He and I sat a couple hours each day, visiting and praying while we looked out at the woods and the water. We just talked, tried to pay attention to clues, and sought to envision a future that is deeper. I had plenty of time to read, pray, think, and walk alone. I don't need to write here about all that came out. That's personal and it's still in process. But I'm very thankful for the experience. If you have any interest, you can read more here. Getting home yesterday was a bit of a challenge. All flights on AA out of New Orleans were cancelled, so I went standby on Continental to Houston and then snagged a flight home last night.


  • Mike, as hectic as your life is I bet it was good to be still and know He is God. I wonder if “know” is more than a cognitive word.

    By Blogger Clint, at 12/08/2005 06:28:00 AM  

  • I get weary of going wider in activity rather than deeper in God.

    By Blogger Emily, at 12/08/2005 07:12:00 AM  

  • I met Dr. Parish at Tulsa one year as he was getting the hermitage off the ground. I've been dying to go ever since.

    By Blogger Neal W., at 12/08/2005 07:29:00 AM  

  • I love Oswald's quote, "My goal is God Himself...at any cost, dear Lord, by any road" (My Utmost For His Highest, 11/17).

    Continue to seek Him, Mike. It doesn't get any deeper than that.

    By Blogger Paul, at 12/08/2005 07:35:00 AM  

  • Thanks for the link. I try to take a pesonal retreat once per quarter and this place looks perfect.

    By Blogger Keith Jones, at 12/08/2005 07:54:00 AM  

  • James Hollis (a Jungian Analyst) writes in his book, "Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life," about "Swampland Visitations."
    He refers to the "swamplands of the soul" as: guilt, grief and loss, betrayal, doubt and loneliness, depression, addictions, and anxieties. I viewed the Parish Hermitage web site and thought about Hollis' swampland.

    I can relate to the need or maybe a call to go deeper. How beautiful it is to have a "dear friend and..a trusted spiritual guide" to take a person from the swamp to walk along the trails of life.

    By Blogger David Michael, at 12/08/2005 08:08:00 AM  

  • Years ago I read what Richard Foster wrote in Celebration of Discipline: "the desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people."

    I read it then; but I'm feeling God leading me there now.

    By Blogger Mike, at 12/08/2005 08:24:00 AM  

  • Thank you for sharing this link. I am putting it on my list.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 12/08/2005 08:35:00 AM  

  • Mike - I just checked out the website for the hermitage. What an incredible place. I almost felt the peace wash over me as I viewed the photos. In the last week I keep hearing "deep calls to deep". Good for you!

    By Blogger Candy, at 12/08/2005 09:25:00 AM  

  • I was lucky to have gone through ACU's MFI while Eddie was a professor. I think of him often, and have wondered what he's into these days. I appreciate the post.

    By Blogger Jason Coriell, at 12/08/2005 09:26:00 AM  

  • There are so many who would be blessed by some time there. But here are a few that come to mind:

    1. Someone who just needs to be away to think, grow, repent, pray, and read -- with the help of a marvelous therapist/spiritual guide. (To be honest, the words you get from Judy over dinner are just as spiritually helpful.)

    2. A couple who is needing to resolve issues or grow together. Traditional therapy can be useful, but it can be stretched over such a long period. This would force you to be together and give to times to alternate between therapy/guidance and alone time -- all around 24 wooded acres and a family table.

    3. A retreat center for churches to send their ministers for times of restoration.

    Just continuing to process this!

    By Blogger Mike, at 12/08/2005 09:31:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Jeff Slater, at 12/08/2005 10:13:00 AM  

  • Check out the Pastor's Retreat Network. It is similar to the Parish Hermitage, but it is completely free for full-time ministers. They have three locations (Texas, Wisconsin, and Ohio).

    I went in November and it was wonderful. You can go alone or with your spouse. I would highly recommend it.

    Check it out HERE.


    By Blogger Jeff Slater, at 12/08/2005 10:15:00 AM  

  • Thank you for sharing this, and the Foster quote. It seems sometimes that we value busy spiritual people and don't place as much value on deeply spiritual people. The latter may not look very productive on a given day.

    By Blogger Amy, at 12/08/2005 10:15:00 AM  

  • One test to determine if you need some time away….

    During a visit to the psychiatric hospital, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a person should be hospitalized.

    "Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, and then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the person and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

    "Oh, I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

    "No.” replied the Director, "A normal person would pull the plug."

    By Blogger J A Pierpont, at 12/08/2005 11:22:00 AM  

  • Isn't it ironic you left that peaceful place and came back to the cold reality delays because of an ice storm?

    What an absolute wonderful idea to have a retreat with an onsite therapist. Is it for anyone?

    By Blogger Hoots Musings, at 12/08/2005 12:44:00 PM  

  • The Hermitage is my husband's dream. He is finishing his Master's degree in Counseling at Alabama and plans on pursuing his Ph.D. His real dream is to "practice" in that natural, "God is everywhere" setting. I find it interesting that it's such a family affair for the Parrishes.

    By Blogger Mommy of Boys, at 12/08/2005 01:20:00 PM  

  • Coupled with a great time of "going deeper" I know you must have been subjected to classic Eddie humor. Bless you.

    By Blogger Arlene Kasselman, at 12/08/2005 02:07:00 PM  

  • Mike -

    I'm just now getting around to the blogosphere today, although it's 6:30 p.m., and am in awe at all you write and comment today about where you've been the past two days and why. I just checked out Parish Hermitage's website and find it fascinating. It's very familiar looking to me, of course, since we don't live very far away from there.

    What resonates with me so much is that because of - and through - all of the physical illnesses and disabilites and traumas I've experienced over the past 2 1/2 years, along with various other horrendous calamities such as Hurricane Katrina, which is still wreaking havoc in our lives, I have come to have a much, much deeper understanding about God, about life, about faith, about patience, about emotional and spiritual hurts - there is no way to adequately describe all I've experienced for the better.

    I was on the phone for a long time this morning with our young minister at Tammany Oaks, Tod Vogt, sharing some of those things I've experienced and all I have learned that have made me a much different, and better, person when you'd think just the opposite would have occurred. That is what is so astounding to me, as I was telling Tod.

    I feel as is I've been transformed into someone much deeper and wiser and fuller and happier and better for having experienced all of those terrible things. And the way it has come about has been because, as you sought, I have spent a vast amount of my time in solitude and quiet, alone here in my home.

    I didn't have to go off to a retreat - I was forced to retreat here. I didn't seek the solitude - it was forced upon me. I didn't wish to have my patience and stamina under pressure tested - I had no choice.

    But this is a beautiful, quiet setting and I sought God's presence here with me. He came to me and stayed with me through all and has shown me far more than I probably ever could have learned out and about and busy and on the go, like I would have been and wanted to be, even if it was in service to Him.

    Tod had called me this morning because, as I shared with my blogging buddies Tuesday, I found out Monday that I had somehow broken a bone in my foot over the weekend (I guess, I have no idea) very seriously and after having the bone manipulated back in position (more or less, although it's very unstable) am now in a foot & leg boot and on crutches for 6 to 8 to who knows how many weeks until it heals.

    It's been yet another serious setback for me just when I thought - once again - that after 2 1/2 years of one trauma after another after another, without end or breathing room in between, that things had finally let up a bit.

    Yesterday was a horrible, horrible day, for the most part, but God brought me help just when I needed it most, and strength, and love and answers to prayers, until the day was ended and over, forever, thank God (and truly I do).

    Today I am much stronger physically, emotionally, spiritually, every other way and my faith is deeper than ever in being delivered yet another time by my Father when I literally could not keep going on.

    Deeper is good. Parish Hermitage looks like a marvelous place to seek it. I found my Parish Hermitage here at home on a path I would not have sought or traveled. And I would not have gone down that path for any 2 1/2 years, either. Two days sounds heavenly!

    But I cannot argue with God about what has resulted. I am much better now in every way for having gone through all these experiences, even the one I'm coming to accept now (after being in a state of complete disbelief and total shock for three days, as serious traumas always bring).

    I hope and pray for you that you can come to have the same understandings I have gained in a much shorter period of time and without all the traumas (you've had many of your own over the years, already, as we all know). I have come to treasure these "middle" years of my life. They have been good ones for me. In all the best ways.

    By Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews, at 12/08/2005 05:13:00 PM  

  • On a personal note, my wife and I had the privilege of Eddie marrying us nearly ten years ago. We've been to the Parish Hermitage on several occasions to spend time Eddie, Judy, Bristol and Arizona. I am very glad to see the Hermitage getting some publicity because it is a worthwhile endeavor. If anyone should consider going, be prepared for authenticity, depth, a loving but at times jolting confrontation with the Holy Spirit, lots of laughter, good food, good wine and a game of Lord of the Rings Monopoly with Arizona. I wholeheartedly endorse what is going on at the Parish Hermitage.

    By Blogger Mike & Adrienne, at 12/08/2005 05:47:00 PM  

  • I'm one of the few lucky people that gets to be a part of the congregation the Parishes attend. God uses them in amaing, powerful and DEEP ways to touch people around them. My wife and I have benefitted greatly from their friendship and some time at the Hermitage.

    If you are wondering if the Hermitage is for you, it is. It's not just for people in ministry or in some kind of crisis. It's for people who need to grow closer to God. I have been shocked at how much God has spoken to me there and how much God has spoken to others there. The testimonies are all incredible.

    Thanks for giving them a shout out.

    By Blogger Blaine Tucker, at 12/13/2005 12:22:00 PM  

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