Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Retreat Week-end

I am back from a week-end away that was both a long week-end and a whirlwind of a time.  I was helping to lead a retreat from Saturday morning to Sunday morning at Richmond Hill, a fascinating retreat center and intentional community, in Richmond, Virginia.   For more on the retreat itself, see this post on my theology blog.

It was my mom's group from her church in nearby Williamsburg, and so I took Friday and Monday off, so that I could spend time with my mom and dad.  In coming days, I expect to write in more detail about some aspects of the week-end, but for now, here are some quick impressions.

--I flew up on Thursday afternoon.  I have never had TSA agents examine my boarding pass and my license quite so intently as they did on Thursday.  And yesterday, in the Richmond airport, my carry on bag was searched.  Is it me?  Just the luck of the draw?  Is something larger going on, some "chatter" that most of us wouldn't know about?

--The weather was beautiful--perfect spring days, with one showery afternoon on Friday.

--We went over to Colonial Williamsburg, where my dad does volunteer work at the library.  He's digitizing various databases, as he did at the wig shop.  We wandered amongst the stacks of the library--what amazing resources!  While I didn't want to sit down and read most of the books, it made me happy that someone found the subject matter fascinating enough to write those books about all sorts of aspects of history.

--Friday afternoon I got a haircut and highlights.  The stylist was snipping tiny amounts, and I suggested that she cut off more.  She said, "If we even out these layers, I'll be taking 3-4 inches off the back."  I asked that she do that.  So now my hair is at my shoulders and less shaggy looking--perfect for summer.

--I had very little in the way of Internet access, which was fine with me--I got a lot of reading done.  I read Golden Age, the third book in the Hundred Years trilogy by Jane Smiley.  I liked it better than the second book, and almost as much as the first.  During a lovely, lazy Sunday afternoon after brunch, I read most of A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves by Jane Gross; I finished it yesterday morning.  And on the plane (and waiting for the plane), I read half of Jonathan Franzen's Purity, which I plan to finish.

--I didn't get much writing done, but I expected that.  I did wonder if it might be possible to work some of the ideas from my parable workshop into some sort of book:  devotional, self-help/enrichment, and part in-depth study.  Many people have already claimed the Living Parables title, but I could come up with something interesting.

--One of the more interesting ideas we talked about:  what if God needs us as much as we need God?  There's a parable about a fig tree that hasn't been bearing fruit and the conversation about whether or not to rip it out.  The gardener fights for the tree, asking for one more chance to save it by giving it more manure.  A standard interpretation:  God is either the gardener or the landowner who wants to rip out the tree.  But what if God is the withered tree and humans are the manure?

--It was great to have the hour long drive home to have some decompression time with my mom.  We talked about the retreat, which we agreed went well.  We talked about whether or not we could take our show on the road--me with Bible study, Mom with music, both of us creating worship and workshop opportunities.  But we agreed that it would probably take more time than we have right now.

--I know that if I ever get to a point where I have more time, it might not be the right time for my mom.  Will that make me sad?  I will remember to be grateful for the time that we had.

--We also agreed that we've done 3 retreats together for groups that we already knew and that it would likely be harder if we didn't know the group.

--It was a week-end of meeting lots of people, both at the retreat and at my mom and dad's retirement community.  And there was the jam-packed plane.  And our college friend came on Wednesday and leaves today--I drop him off on my way to work. 

I hope today is fairly quiet at work, or at least the morning.  I need some gentle re-entry time.

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