This past weekend, I went on another retreat. You might be thinking to yourself, gentle reader, why does she go on so many retreats? What can I say? I believe that we all need to get away sometimes.
I started off my Friday by going to work at 8am-ish. I got there around 8:07, so I call that a success. Set up the study center with coffee and cleaning out the room and setting up the kitchen for baking and other miscellaneous things my job as a Hospitality Intern requires. I had some fruit, pretzels, and baked goods for breakfast. Aided in some baking and then hopped over to Vintage Lunch for a discussion on Howard Thurman and some delicious food. It was the first gorgeous day in a hot minute.
I ventured home and finished putting together all of my belongings. Got dressed and hopped into a car headed for Goshen, VA. Goshen is kind of a random place, but essentially, it’s near Lexington. The ride there was stunning and the other three girls and I did a mixed playlist, answering questions like What song reminds you of your parents? Or what song would you be embarrassed you know all the words to? All of driver Libby’s idea. SO CLEVER.
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Only 3 girls in my small group ended up coming to the retreat so we ended up merging with another small group, which was fine. Just not ideal for the last one. We want things to be special, but not everyone could make it for various reasons. I loved our windy road drive to the mountains. It was rocky and curved every which way. I felt sentimental. Really every part of this trip was sentimental to me.
We had our first talk on the first 2 chapters of the book of Ephesians. Lizzie, our speaker, talked about how the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church of Ephesus, and how principles in that letter still hold true for Christians today. We are to be united, we are to put on the armor of God, we are to let go of feeding the flesh and be formed into the image of Christ. I’ve read Ephesians before, and Lizzie emphasized the spiritual blessings we receive in Christ—redemption, adoption, and forgiveness. And this is good news. In a time where we all need good news.
‘Twas a lovely night. Seeing people I hadn’t seen in a long while—friends who had graduated. Attempting to play spoons (that didn’t go well). Eating ice cream. Chatting.
In the morning when I woke up, I had one of those sleeps in which you watch the light come in from the window and you feel at rest and at peace. It was cozy. Saturday morning was beautiful. Just look at the pictures. Enough said.
We had a morning session reading all of Ephesians and then some personal reflection time. In which I somehow managed to find my way near my crush. *shakes head* Reflection time was short and I was distracted and it was cold. I loved being outdoors in the beauty but it was just hard. Time in silence is always hard. It’s so hard to lean into silence when all I have is noise. Other things I discovered/re-learned: we are adopted as full heirs. WE get to receive a full inheritance because of Christ. God is so darn lavish. We can have confidence and freedom in our approach to God, as we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. I ended up having some time chatting with my small group leader Lauren about my distractions and what we learned.
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Free time was fun and chaotic at different points. I ended up playing Frisbee Golf and that was the most fun thing I did.
And here comes the part where we don’t get what we want: we ended up being told that we were going to be sent home early due to snow. (SNoW that didn’t even stick, but I digress) I was sad but not overly emotional. It was my last of this specific retreat. And lasts are special because COVID took away a lot of things, including lots of people’s lasts. So to have something like the snow be the reason our last few hours in Goshen were taken away was really sad. But during the worship set, at the end of one of the songs, Dakota reached out his hand to me and Garrett hugged me. It was sweet and I felt seen.
Though I didn’t get what I wanted, I had a moment of being reminded that I was seen in my sadness, and that was special even if the other things I had wanted to be special weren’t.
Back at home, we popped by Cookout, picked up milkshakes, and then headed over to the study center to have a worship night until 2 in the morning. And I know for some reason, that would seem kind of wild. After time driving and a late night, the fact that we would choose to sing together seems crazy. But I think we all needed that in order to have some closure. To take a broken ending and make it something beautiful.
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Sometimes our desires don’t quite map onto reality. What we plan for doesn’t necessarily become the plan. But it’s in what we can’t control where moments we had never planned for fall into place to create something in the absence of our desires.
There’s this verse in Ephesians 3:20 that Christians know and love: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than you could think, ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Reading this verse, whether or not you’re not a Christian, there are times in life where what you want doesn’t happen, that doesn’t mean that something better than you could think to ask for or imagine won’t come your way. When you want something you can tend to put limits on what special ends up being. Then when life comes around, the special comes out of hiding in a way that you could have never thought. Just a piece of wisdom to keep in mind about the Ferris wheel that is life.
Hope the special comes through for you, gentle reader. Be well, friend!
Tell me how the haywire became special in your life, friend!