By Joanne Dingus
I wanted to share my reflections from the Retreat. I have been going to the Retreat ever since it began fifteen years ago. It has changed for me personally as my family changed. There used to be four of us and a dog and now it’s just me. But it is a tradition that I look forward to each year.
The setting, except for a whole bunch of downed trees still left from Hurricane Isabelle and some new appliances in the kitchen this year, has remained exactly the same. Okay, maybe not exactly the same as Robin could explain to you from a biology perspective but mostly the same.
We generally schedule the Retreat for mid to late October when the leaves are just starting to turn. The acorns are falling from the trees, knocking on the mossy roofs of the rustic cabins. Florescent orange fungi flaunt their beauty throughout the forest. Daddy Long Legs dance across the crumpled leaves and dirt paths. The moon and the stars are just that much brighter without the interference of man-made lights. And the hoot of an owl keeps you company while you shiver your way to the bathrooms in the middle of the night because nature does call.
As the Director of Religious Education though, I’m especially grateful to witness the freedom, the sharing and the deepening of friendships that happens at the Retreat. They say it takes a village to raise a child, well the Retreat is a place where the village comes to life. The children have this wonderful sense of freedom while all the adults join together to keep an eye on them keeping them safe and happy. People of all ages play games, go boating, hang out around the campfires, prepare, eat and clean up meals together.
The teens found their own space when needed in one of the craft cabins and enjoyed their own campfire up at the field. But they also did all the work for Saturday lunch and led group games. They played with the younger kids and found time for deeper conversations with adults.
In our closing service Sunday morning, the children mentioned they were thankful for getting to be outside so much and for spending time with their friends. I think this was true for all of us. We all got to share the special moments of the weekend with each other by placing a bead on a string. We were asked to make an effort to keep these memories alive for future Retreats.
I hope we will continue this tradition of going on Retreat together. I know it is a wonderful way to build community and to remind us of how we are connected to each other and to the web of life.
See you in the RE!