What an amazing time we had at the all-church retreat this past weekend.
Here is a reflection by one UCWer who attended:
I arrived at Toah Nipi early Saturday morning – driving on to the grounds certainly gave me a sense of the potential for reflection in the coming hours. We began by reading the story of Jesus asleep on a boat when a great windstorm arose (Mark 4:35-41). We broke out into 4 groups to explore different parts of this story. I was a ‘packer’ – we were tasked with thinking about what we would bring with us if Jesus called us to go with him – or more importantly, what would we leave behind? We quickly went from the physical to the abstract – bringing our hopes, a sense of wonder, leaving behind our anxieties and our pre-conceptions….
After a tasty lunch (food really was very good all weekend) I had the chance to participate in a Renewal and Resilience session with Stacy, where we first took a few minutes to focus our minds, and then we reflected on ways we could find increase our spiritual awareness and strength. I made a commitment to carve out 20 minutes a day to complete a spiritual task I kept getting distracted from. Bart also gave a session on why Rest is a central part of faith.
The afternoon afforded many opportunities for fun and exercise. The kids took on the adults in a game of Capture the Flag outside – while Ping Pong was very popular indoors – usually doubles – thankfully only minor injuries occurred from stray bats and balls! The kids also got to take on a climbing wall inside. The views were really special in the evening light, and as night fell we lit a campfire. Kids toasted marshmallows and ate Smores (ok, a few adults did too), and both kids and adults sang around the campfire, appreciating its warmth and light.
The grounds offered wonderful hikes and paths to appreciate the beauty of nature throughout the weekend – though we were a little surprised to see a fresh blanket of snow on Sunday morning! Hearty walkers were not deterred, collecting natural elements for our Sunday service. Others worked hard throughout the weekend rehearsing music and songs, while the group I was in did a re-enactment of the story of the five loaves and two fish.
As we broke bread for the final time, I definitely felt a sense of renewal. It’s not easy to put together a full weekend of activities – many of which I have not mentioned here – and I felt the planning team and Stacy did a wonderful job of making it really inclusive for all of us – regardless of ‘age and stage’. I feel a little more ready to engage with the ups and downs that life brings our way.
Here is some of the feedback we received on the evaluations:
“I really appreciated…”
- The intergenerational experience
- The worship – great, loved the creativity and people experiencing that we could all do the pieces of worship. Loved the embracing of the kids in all aspects embracing what they could offer and how that was demonstrated in the liturgical dance.
- The discussion of rest and resilience
- The food was great
- How everyone was included in all the activities
- that we had time to just rest and do what we wanted
- I thought I would take a nap, but felt I would miss something.
- Love to have fun with friends
- It was great to have a good time with people
- The breakout sessions were not too complicated
- The wonderful accommodations
- The worship was awesome
- Hot chocolate, the food, 6 pillows, the hikes
- Being in a somewhat rural setting so that we could feel more connected to nature and removed from our every day lives. I appreciated the opportunity to get to know those people I see on a Sunday morning in a more relaxed setting and the smaller groups were a good means of getting to know others.
Stay tuned for news of our retreat. You won’t want to miss it!