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A Grateful Oasis A collection of gratitude from the Oasis community

2011


What’s Inside? In the following pages you will find a gathering of reflections from some of the amazing people who make up the community associated with Oasis Ministries for Spiritual Development. The call for submissions stated the simple theme of ‘gratitude;’ it did not have to deal directly with Oasis. Enclosed are submissions we received: photos, poetry, sermons, reflections, and prayers. Our thanks to all who submitted material. Thank you to all who continue to support Oasis, especially through prayer. As you read and reflect, may you be inspired toward greater gratitude. Oasis Ministries for Spiritual Development 419 Deerfield Road, Camp Hill, PA 17011 717.737.8222 * www.oasismin.org

Table of Contents May Gratitude Be Like a Waterfall, Diane Ross ............................................................................... 3 A Word of Gratitude, Cheryl Wunsch ............................................................................................... 3 What Prompts Your Interest, Nadine Smet-Weiss ........................................................................... 4 The Alabaster Jar, Dianne Renfro ..................................................................................................... 5 Into the Light, Marie Rodichok ......................................................................................................... 6 A Word of Gratitude, Bill Rader ........................................................................................................ 6 Winter Blessings, Nancy Agneberg ................................................................................................... 7 Prayers in the Night, Sally Mathews ................................................................................................. 8 untitled photo, Andrew Barton......................................................................................................... 9 Wings, Dianne Renfro ....................................................................................................................... 9 Basket Weaving As Prayer, Fern Gaffey ......................................................................................... 10 A Word of Gratitude, Dixie Myers................................................................................................... 11 May Morning, Jill Speelman............................................................................................................ 11 Nature Praises God, Jill Speelman................................................................................................... 12 untitled photo, Andrew Barton....................................................................................................... 12 Spirit’s Breath, Mary Lou Howson .................................................................................................. 13 A Word of Gratitude, Keith Braucher.............................................................................................. 13 Our Relationship, Mary Morreale ................................................................................................... 14 Some Oasis Haiku, Sara Jane Munshower ...................................................................................... 15 untitled photo, Jim Goudie.............................................................................................................. 15 A Psalm Prayed From My Soul, Cheri Roth ..................................................................................... 16 Walking the Labyrinth, Alicia Conklin-Wood .................................................................................. 17 Watching the Moon, Alicia Conklin-Wood...................................................................................... 18 A Word of Gratitude, Rich Gelson................................................................................................... 19 untitled photo, Rich Gelson............................................................................................................. 19 O Taste and See that God is Good, Andrew Barton................................................................... 20-22 List of Contributors ......................................................................................................................... 23

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~ Photo collage offered by Diane Ross A Word of Gratitude I am grateful for my first grandchild, Jackson! ~ Cheryl Wunsch 3


What prompts your interest in this program? how to find the words to express a desire so deep it lies beyond all form perhaps to say i thirst and i have found a community where my thirst is quenched leaving me strangely satisfied yet ever eager for more longing to go deeper still into the darkness of unknowing beyond the depths of my being where the light breaks through ~ Nadine Smet-Weiss 4


THE ALABASTER JAR Beautiful, costly, The scent weighed on the senses Even when the alabaster jar was sealed. It had cost her Everything in her life. It was cupped in her hands As she entered the room Filled with men at dinner, Where she did not belong. She went to Jesus And poured her treasure, Mixed with love and tears, On Him Who would Pour out His precious life For her and you and me. The scent of the perfume Became the scent of love Freely given by Jesus To her to give back again. May my sacrifices smell Sweet to You, Lord.

~ Dianne Renfro Written February, 2008

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Into the Light Marie Rodichok

A Word of Gratitude Though it's been a decade since my participation in Spiritual Direction for Spiritual Guides, my thankfulness for that experience has not dimmed. I can picture our group and feel the sense of commitment to exploring ways of growing spiritually and guiding others. That included commitment to one another. The warmth and light of those two years is one of the bright colors in life for which I'll always be grateful. I cannot say enough words of thanks for Kent Groff, whose gentle invitation welcomed me into this experience. ~ Bill Rader 6


Winter Blessings By Nancy L. Agneberg I’ve always loved the bones of winter trees; the skeletons. The chance to see how a tree is made and how it reaches; its spread and girth and width. The bones, the basics, the dark against the grey sky. The shadows cast, the possibilities, the past, present, and the imagined future. For years I walked the same route, no matter the season, but in winter the changes created over the year were most apparent to me. Where a huge branch had been struck down by lightning or age. Where undergrowth was more its own. Where nests were left vulnerable to driving snow. Where time had taken its toll. The first winter I walked in those woods I noticed trunks with door-sized holes and wondered if I peered inside would I find Peter Pan and the Lost Boys or a bear in hibernation? I noticed stumps large enough for picnics in summer. I wondered about lone leaves stubbornly clinging to an otherwise bare branch. What is it holding on to? Why won’t it let go? I admit it, I love winter, and in fact, I catch myself praying for the longest, the worst winter ever. True, I sigh with others, “Yes isn’t it awful? Sick of it? “Yes, me, too,” as I adjust the glasses on my nose, turn another page and reach for my mug of hot chocolate. I wrap myself in a shawl. I poke the fire. I turn on only enough light to see the book. Winter’s uncluttered, unlittered nature moves me patiently from day to day without surprise of color or blossom or smell of dirt or invitation to jump, to charge forward. Instead, I stop. I rest, I delight in Sabbath time. I stretch slowly, deliberately, quietly, so as not to awaken any other bear in my cave. I value the harvest of fall, the energy of spring, the secure lingering of summer, but even more I covet the layers, the lairs of winter, the hidden passages, the unlit corridors, the streamlined views, the bareness of the horizon, the bones of trees. The action coldly stopped, frozen without conscious time. I’ve done what I can all those other days and months, and now it is time to set aside what is undone and to unwind the sweater until once more it is yarn. It is sheep. It is essence. Ah, this is it. Winter is essence and offers the time to recall, to re-call my own essence.

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Prayers in the Night Awakened from deep and dreamless sleep, I search for the spirit who calls me. A waning moon whispers low at my window, and I ask, "Is it your voice I hear?" In moonlight the oak tree, holly, and lilac seem dark ghosts of their every day selves. My friend, the apple tree, keeps silent watch, casting long strident shadows of light and dark. It's a mere fragment of moon, just a quarter, but what bright power to awaken. I'm drawn from sleep by some other world light for a lonely 3 o'clock vigil. What sorrows, regrets, softly wrapped in old pain, does the white milky light find lurking? Will the moon illumine any of this, or bring me to slow understanding? I light a candle, breathe deeply, slowly, deep, slow, grateful, wondering, almost - but not quite - aware. ~ Sally Mathews

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WINGS A flutter a stirring of leaves in the breeze a whirr and whisper which I notice as I fall from risk into failure from anticipation to despair. And then strength beneath me, powerful and gentle a net of steel and feathers. I am caught by wings that shelter and protect, breaking my fall, and lift me to try again. Sometimes wings leave bruises– they aren’t pillows– but I can’t see the wings so I only feel the bruises and wonder why God didn’t help. Then a feather drifts into my lap And I say thank you for grace.

~ Dianne Renfro

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Photo by Andrew Barton


Fern Gaffey SDSG NOV 2007

Basket Weaving as Prayer Reviewing the writings for SDSG class is a delight because they are so much different from my usual reading and surfing the internet. These readings force me to stop and consider something other than the world of statistics and business process re-engineering. They force me to contemplate life from a much different perspective. My gosh, I’ve even been reading poetry and enjoying it. I move into the realm of self re-engineering. This is a world that is sometimes confusing, sometimes scary, and definitely mysterious. In a sense, this is the world that focuses on the deep mysteries of life. There was a writing that particularly resonated with me this time. As I read Mark Nepo’s “The Net of Influences,” I was struck by what it means to be “attentive.” I have always considered myself a great multi-tasker. I can do several things at once and have them all done on time. I can write a report, listen to the news and carry on a conversation. But Mr. Nepo caused me to “pause to consider what undivided attention means.” I wondered what it would take for me to actually give my undivided attention to anything or anyone. Nepo says “Our modern world insists that we multi-task constantly, tending many things at once, and while we are skilled enough to manage this, the deeper ways won’t be open unless we give them all of our attention.” Wow, I thought. I have to step back from this and think about it. Actually, I thought about it for most of a week. Could I step back that far? I thought I was already alive, but Nepo was telling me that unless I open myself that I would not be in touch with what was real. That idea of undivided attention kept coming back to me. I considered what is it that I do that gets my undivided attention. It took a long time to work that into my multi-tasked life. I had to give it my full attention. Then it came to me as I reread the article once more. Nepo wrote about hobbies being surrender points where we block out our usual train of thought and concentrate solely upon one thing. What could it be? I had so many hobbies and tried to multitask them as well. Then it came to me—basket weaving. Basket weaving you question? Yes, it is the one thing that totally occupies my attention. Working with the natural fibers of reed and cane and sea grass, I can fashion a thing of beauty. It is an offering to the world. Even when somewhat misshapen because of my novice attempts at the more difficult patterns, there is still more beauty in the world when I finish. I concentrate on how to work the staves and weavers. I create something of my own. No matter who else might be weaving, this basket is unique and uniquely mine. Time passes. This consummate clock watcher forgets to look at her watch. I am not bored, depressed or anxious. I am open to how the basket will weave itself through the use of natural materials that will not be brought into submission. I am the one who has to submit to the basket and be open to the way it will form itself with me merely assisting the process. After weaving, I come away tired, but happy because I have forced all the other rubble from my overworked mind. I have emptied all, forgotten work, forgotten to-do lists, and forgotten the minutia of life. I have opened myself to possibilities and I have prayed. I remember the phrase from Carl Jung: “Bidden or not God is present.” And I remember that God was there with me in the creation, the wonderment and the beauty. I don’t have to force myself to let go and be open. It has happened without my intervention. 10


A Word of Gratitude Thank you...there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of my life-changing two years with Oasis; after all, the entire Universe became a different place afterwards! And it is no accident, I know, that nearly every day a person walks into my life who needs a little company on the path... ~ Dixie Myers

May Morning Morning sun appears Earth yawns wide open Sunshine soaks humanity Dries earth after rain Solar light on face Glory in each ray Earth awakes nature stretches Hawks soar high above We and butterflies Struggle from cocoon Honor breath savor time dance Anticipating Live today Be now Fill full empty out Engaging releasing touch Savor sensations delight ~ Jill Speelman 2005

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Nature Praises God Sun bright and crisp Glows between leaves and above trees A bird calls out Another quietly visits the feeder Crepe Myrtles burst with blooms The wind keeps the spirit moving With Monarchs on its wing. ~ Jill Speelman 2007

Photo by Andrew Barton

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SPIRIT’S BREATH Written sitting at my desk at home looking at the moon on the evening of my lumpectomy when my breast cancer was confirmed. silent pearl velvet touch held luminescent in ghostly fingers of leafless limbs pouring in from window’s edge sweet silver light known only in darkness caresses my heart fills my soul with spirit’s breath ~ Mary Lou Howson

A Word of Gratitude My best Christmas present ever was watching my daughter dance for my grandfather. Christmas morning was winding down and the two of them were alone in the living room as the rest of the family was either preparing Christmas dinner or relaxing in the family room. Three year old Allison was twirling and dancing to the music in her head as my grandfather clapped a rhythm smiling and laughing. The fact that he was nearly blind did not matter to either of them. Eternal life is not simply the extension of life, it is the here and now moment that will last forever – a free gift from God. This Christmas, now sixteen year old Allison starred as Clara in the Sunday showing of the Greater York Youth Ballet production of the Nutcracker. I cannot help but think about how much her great-grandfather's unconditional love and delight, a reflection of God's love and delight, still shines through in these eternal moments. ~ Keith Braucher 13


Our Relationship Thank you for the spring of our relationship. We fell in love in the springtime of our lives, young and vulnerable Good soil for love seeds. You loved me when I did not love myself. For the gift of your love, Thank you, Dave Thank you for the summer of our relationship. A time of growth that out of that fertile spring, new love bore two children. The season of building a life together, a home, life work, recreation. For the gift of my children, our family, Thank you, Dave In the season of harvest we realized many dreams. Our relationship began to "fall." From the gentle, lingering fall, I received the gift of knowing God. From the final, painful fall came gifts of clarity, gifts of knowing myself as well as mySelf. For the gift of knowing Love, Thank you, Dave Finally, in the deadness of the winter of our relationship comes a season of healing. An incubation of seeds of forgiveness, new life and new love. As our love completes its cycle to Love, we end in the darkness of winter. Yet death has no victory. In its darkness it is being transformed, resurrected into compassion and hope, New Life. For the gift of a complete relationship, Thank you, Dave

~ Mary J. Morreale

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Some Oasis Haiku Written by Sara Jane Munshower OASIS answersprayers of pilgrimming people on God's holy path.

Snow-covered corn husks offer food for geese and deereye-candy for us.

A carpenter man made a living of his lifeof giving his life.

Feathered friends chirpingflitting, collecting, making nests for fledgling friends.

Photo by Jim Goudie 15


A Psalm Prayed from My Soul based on Psalm 131 (2) Cheri Roth 11/24/10 O, My Beloved As I Rise This early morning…

As I Breathe Deeply and Fully of Life…

I have Calmed and Quieted My Soul…

To See and Feel In a Knowing My Connection to All Created Things…

Like A Weaned Child with its Mother…

My Restored Being Awakes…

My Soul Leaps and Kicks for Sheer Joy As a Babe in its Mother’s Womb…

My Still Soul Lets Go Of Earthly Cares and Concerns…

O, Living Breathing Ever-Still-Creating God…

As It is Drawn Deeper into Silence With You, My Creator…

As I am Birthed Out of this Moment This Quiet and Still Silence with You…

Your Loving Ways Mold My Tired Being Back into Suppleness and Wholeness…

Help My Soul My Very Being To Take this Knowing with me Throughout this Blessed Day!!!

As I Lay In this Stilled and Fetal Position Of Your Healing Womb…

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Amen


Walking the Labyrinth I was walking the labyrinth one day while on retreat. Suddenly I heard a quiet voice ask: “What do you see?” - the harvest fields - the miniature webs on the boxwood like little white Christmas decorations - a beautiful red leaf, - flowers scattered here and there on the path “What do you feel?” - cold on the rock in the center where I sat to pray - warmth from walking - unzipped my jacket - the cool air on my cheek - my hip is hurting at times “What do you hear?” - traffic passing on the nearby road - various bird songs - Your voice within my heart saying “trust me” “What do you taste?” - red raspberries from nearby bushes. For everything that isthank you Dear One. ~ Alicia Conklin-Wood

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Watching the Moon It’s evening and I’m sitting in my sacred space. The words from J. Phillip Newell’s prayer are circling in my head: “I will show you hidden things, hidden things you have not known” Before me, beyond the window a stunningly beautiful big white saucer: the moon. I watch awhile as it dances with the tree top branches before it. Then close my eyes in silent prayer. Later I open my eyes and My beautiful moon is gone! Sadness until I look more closely My beautiful moon has only moved in its orbit, so it’s above my window and out of sight. All I need do is change my position a little and it is clear again. Joy. Is this all that’s needed to find you again? - to change my position, or perspective a little? “hidden things I have not known.” Gratitude!

~ Alicia Conklin-Wood

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Photo by Rich Gelson A Word of Gratitude A year or so ago during one of my roughest stretches in life, and while I was being sustained in heart, mind, soul by Oasis peers and study, my spiritual director gave me the gift of the heart-shaped rock in this photo. The hand reaching and cradling this rock is a backscratcher that I've had with me since the days of my childhood home. This afternoon I put them together to express my gratitude for God's loving, outreaching, got-your-back companioning love through Oasis Ministries. May the photo be of inspirational use! ~ Rich Gelson

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A Sermon Excerpt offered by Andrew Barton O Taste and See that God Is Good Psalm 34:8 The Psalmist invites us to "TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD." So real is God's presence, so real is God's goodness we can perceive it with our senses—we can taste it, smell it, touch it, hear it, and see it. We partake of good things thus giving thanks to the good Lord. Babette's Feast by Isak Dinesen, tells the story of Babette, an extraordinary French chef who has had to flee Paris. She comes to Norway to live and to work for two sisters. The sisters are the daughters of a minister who founded a tiny conservative community of believers. The little commune of Christians is devout and active, until the minister dies when it gradually loses its vibrant spirit. While it had always been strict and puritanical, the vibrancy is gone and its strictness has become joyless. The once caring and cordial group became quarrelsome and divisive. Babette, the renowned chef, works incognito for many years. None of the villagers know of her fame. What's more she cooks only their customary bland bread and simple fish and that according to the way of the sisters. Before each meal a simple song is sung: Your kindness is second to none, You keep us clothed and fed; Never would you give a stone, To the child who begs for bread. Babette's dream is to return home by winning the French lottery. Every year she buys her lottery ticket until finally it happens. She wins ten thousand francs! An annual celebration of the sisters' father, the founder of the religious community is coming up, so Babette offers to cook a French meal for the whole community to commemorate the day. The sisters are wary, but do not know how to gracefully say no to Babette who has served them faithfully for many years. Thus, they reluctantly agree. Babette sets about her preparations. She sends an errand boy across the fjord with a long list of supplies to buy and begins her work in secret. On the day of celebration the villagers gather at the home of the sisters to remember and honor their beloved leader of bygone days. They're nervous about the French cuisine. As they await dinner in the sitting room there are whispers: "Not a word about the food,” they implore each other, “Not a word." One of them quotes Jesus himself, "Take no thought of food and drink." (Continued on page 21)

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(Continued from page 20)

Another recites: "Like the Wedding of Cana, the food is of no importance; we won't even think about it!" The faithful community seeks to put their minds on spiritual things and to not even taste what they eat and drink. In this they hope for God's approval. And with that they once again sing their simple song: Your kindness is second to none, You keep us clothed and fed; Never would you give a stone, To the child who begs for bread. Just before they move to the other room, two visitors appear—a famous, well-traveled general visiting with his aunt who is a neighbor and a friend of the community. One of the sisters had invited them to attend. The little group enters the normally austere eating room. Their mouths gape and their eyes grow wide as they survey the splendid table: fine china dishes, crystal goblets, silverware and candlesticks. There are a few faint whispers, but no word is spoken aloud. While Babette makes last minute preparations in the kitchen, a young boy, at her instructions serves the guests—first, pouring the wine. The general is the first to sip and he’s startled by the fine taste. He raises the glass and smells, then holds it to the light to observe its color. "This is very strange," he says. "Amontillado. The finest Amontillado that I have ever tasted." The other guests have observed him, but say nothing, pretending not to hear. When the soup is served, it is again the General who takes a small spoonful and savors its smell and taste. "This is exceedingly strange," he remarks aloud, "For surely I am eating turtle soup-- and what turtle soup it is!" And so it goes throughout the meal. The General expressing wonder and delight at the goodness of the meal. The guests pretending not to hear, making no comment upon the food or wine, as they have vowed. Yet, something is occurring. Conversation! Usually the people did not talk much during mealtime, plus lately because of their quarrels and bitterness they spoke little. Now the conversations began to flow, happily, though still without comment about the food. (Continued on page 22)

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(Continued from page 21)

Babette continues to work magic in her preparations in the kitchen, each dish cooked and served with exquisite care. Finally the main course is served: a quail delicacy that only one chef in the world could have prepared. It was a dish the general had eaten once in Paris and he has never forgotten it. He tells the others not only the name of the French dish, but also how the dish has transformed the Parisian Cafe into a love affair, noble and romantic, wherein the physical and spiritual were indistinguishable. Now this extraordinary dish is being served in this quaint Norwegian home where once again the dish performs its enchantment: The table talk grows congenial and free. Old grievances fade and new fellowship swells. They even comment on the food. Finally they are taking notice of the good gifts given by Babette. ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ Babette's feast became a sacrament, a thanks-giving. The individuals became a community again, brought together by Babette’s gift. In a similar vein can we taste and see, smell and hear, touch and feel the goodness of the Lord? Take notice of God's gifts… The general in the story teaches the community to taste and see the wonderful meal before them. Take a few minutes to do as he did. We may not have a glass of fine wine to hold up nor a fancy quail delicacy. But are there other things we can taste, touch, smell, see, hear or feel. Take a few moments to notice God's gifts, in essence saying, "Look and see, taste and see, that God is good?" ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ At the end of Babette's Feast, the sisters expect Babette to return to France, her beloved home, after all she has won the much needed money. But she explains that she will stay, for she has spent the entire ten thousand francs on the feast! The sisters are dumbstruck. They cannot utter a word. So are we struck dumb by the extravagant love and kindness of God—in Creation, in God’s Covenant, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, the unspeakable gift. Can we take notice of God's many gifts? Can we find our tongue and utter our thanks? The Psalmist says, "I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth." Then comes an invitation, "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." And then, "O taste and see that the Lord is good." 22


Our deepest gratitude to all of our contributors and our heartfelt thanks to our proof-readers, Susan Shiner and Betsy Keller. Many of the contributors have participated in various day or overnight retreats. All have shared in at least one of our year-long programs, as noted below. Some Oasis acronyms to help you know them better: CL = Contemplative Living: The Spirituality of Daily Life (one-year contemplative program) DYDM = Deepening Year for Direction Ministries (one-year program for spiritual directors) LCG = Leading Contemplative Gatherings SDSG = Spiritual Direction for Spiritual Guides (two-year training in spiritual direction)

List of Contributors In alphabetical order Nancy Agneberg (page 7) — SDSG graduate (1998-1999) Andrew Barton (pages 9, 12, 20) — SDSG graduate (2000-2001) Keith Braucher (page 13) — SDSG graduate (2007-2008) Alicia Conklin-Wood (pages 17, 18) — CL (2009-2010), teacher of day and overnight retreats Fern Gaffey (page 10) — SDSG graduate (2008-2009), DYDM (2009-2010), LCG (2009-2010), Current member of Oasis’ Board of Directors Rich Gelson (page 19) — SDSG graduate (2008-2009) Jim Goudie (page 15) — SDSG graduate (1995-1996), Contemplative Canoe Trip 2009 Mary Lou Howson (page 13) — SDSG graduate (2007-2008) Sally Mathews (page 8) — SDSG graduate (2008-2009) Mary Morreale (page 14) — SDSG graduate (1997-1998) Sara Jane Munshower (page 15) — SDSG graduate (2009-2010) Current member of Oasis’ Board of Directors Dixie Myers (page 11) — SDSG graduate (2001-2002) Bill Rader (page 6) — SDSG graduate (1999-2000) Dianne Renfro (pages 5, 9) — SDSG graduate (2001-2002) Marie Rodichok (page 6) — SDSG graduate (2007-2008) Cheri Roth (page 16) — SDSG graduate (2009-2010), LCG (2009-2010) Diane Ross (page 3) — SDSG graduate (2005-2006), DYDM (2010-2011) Nadine Smet-Weiss (page 4) — CL (2009-2010), SDSG (yr I—2010-2011) Jill Speelman (pages 11, 12) — SDSG graduate (2004-2005) Cheryl Wunsch (page 3) — SDSG graduate (2006-2007) If you are interested in participating in the Oasis community and programming, please explore www.oasismin.org, call 717.737.8222, or email oasismin@oasismin.org. Receive brochures by becoming a part of our mailing list, or receive free news, updates and prayers by joining our email list at www.oasismin.org. Thank you. 23

A Grateful Oasis  

At Oasis, gratitude is a constant theme. We want to share with you a bit of thankfulness from the Oasis community. Enjoy A Grateful Oasis (2...

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