Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Retreats are good

At the annual clergy spouse retreat for folks in that position from the Southwest Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church last weekend in Kerrville at the Mount Wesley Retreat Center, I again experienced one of those aha moments that stretched to most of the weekend. In the almost 14 years I've been attending the event, some years stand out in their closeness and cohesiveness...the sharing of attendees and ability of folks to see the world through the eyes of others in similar situations seems to be acute. This year was one of those times. "Rest -- Relax -- Renew" was the retreat theme.

For the last several years, the long trek to Kerrville (about 170 miles from our current home) has been assisted by podcasts played through the vehicle radio from a trusty MP3 player. I choose the podcasts for favorite musicians or interviewees in order to keep myself awake on the fairly boring trip. That part worked well, too.

The trip didn't start out well, as I discovered a rear tire was flat within a half block of the driveway (Note to self: Go back to checking the tires' pressure BEFORE a long trip.) after already being an hour late (Note to self: Go back to being completely packed the day before leaving for a long trip.) getting started on the journey.

On Saturday, I got to sing with a really talented guitar player/singer, reading lyrics from her one copy of them in a loose leaf notebook (I can NEVER remember lyrics to songs, so the notebook pages were very helpful). Besides the three musicians who accompanied us during the retreat, singing hymns both old and new, she pulled out some old 60's and 70's pop music pieces that were SO FUN to sing!

In between rain showers, I got to throw Frisbees with a total novice. I surely got my exercise for the day, but with careful tutelage, he certainly was throwing much better by the end of the experience. We had quite a bit more unfocused time at this year's retreat: time to sing if we wanted to, play games if we wanted to, take walks up to the top of the hill and spend time up there with nature and the big cross. The rain cooled things down so outside wasn't an oven. That surely doesn't always happen!

Sunday morning's worship service was so free and easy that I will remember it for some time. The birds outside the open windows of the little chapel on the retreat center grounds added measurably to our voices and thoughts. The stained glass windows seemed to be crying out to us through their subject matter and images to honor World Communion Sunday. We shared Communion and sang our final songs of the occasion, happy that this ceremony sealed the end of our weekend together.

We had a unofficial, final, Dutch treat meal at a local gigantic Mexican food restaurant with about two-thirds of the retreat folks present. I took the opportunity to load up on coffee for the trip home and tried hard not to eat too much to ward off the sleepy feeling while driving just after a meal. All went well on the way home, which is to say that it was singularly uneventful. I enjoyed the music from NPR's "Mountain Stage", listening on the final leg of the trip to Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie Family (which included his son, daughter, and son-in-law) singing stuff by Arlo's dad, Woody Guthrie, and newer material, too.

I pulled in the driveway of the parsonage, fulfilled, happy, and so ready to be home.


  1. ditto & amen!!! janice in Boerne

  2. Glad you enjoyed it! It sounds like it was great and so important for spouses to be with others in like situations to share the understanding.