Surrounded by love at Blue Lake

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Bradford pear tree, resplendent in all its glory, was part of the breath-taking view that greeted me from the window of the Blue Lake Camp solarium last week. I was among approximately 60 retired ministers and spouses who gathered on March 8-9 for the Wesley Heirs spring retreat.

My late husband, Claude, and I had attended most of the spring and fall meetings since his first retirement from the ministry in 1994. It was difficult to settle into a room without him that Tuesday morning, but I looked forward to the sweet fellowship with old and new friends. I remember that during the first gathering we attended, we suddenly found ourselves appointed Wesley Heirs newsletter editor. Through that volunteer project, I came to know many of the Wesley Heirs that I had never met. It kept me busy twice a year for several years. After receiving news from district reporters, I edited and composed the newsletter and had it printed. After that, my co-editor Claude helped me sort the more than 300 newsletters by zip codes. We both always heaved a sigh of relief when we delivered them to the post office.

There are certain things one can count on at Wesley Heirs gatherings: entertainment, delicious food, including snacks between meals, time to chat or play games, time to explore the grounds, times of worship and a good sermon, and the awareness of God’s love among us. I always enjoy the pleasant hum of conversation in the dining room; the time in the chapel when we worship together; the concerns and laughter we share as a group.

On Tuesday, a senior group from Frazier United Methodist Church, Montgomery, presented a delightful program of hymns and gospel music. We gathered at 9 p.m. for a devotional after which we were free to visit with each other or enjoy dominoes and other games before retiring.

Wednesday morning, alerted to a tornado warning, we filed into the hall and sat in chairs lining the hallway on both sides. Suddenly someone began to sing, “We’re Marching to Zion.” Everyone joined in and we sang numerous other hymns. Several chairs down the hall, a man pulled out a harmonica and played “Give Me That Old Time Religion, “Sweet By and By,” and “When the Saints Come Marching In.” When the “all clear” came, we posed for a group picture in the solarium.

During the Wednesday morning service in memory of 13 ministers or spouses who passed away since our last gathering, I lighted a candle when my husband’s name was called. Holy Communion followed an inspirational sermon.

Another Wesley Heirs member who lighted a candle in memory of his wife later told us, “I never felt so much love in my life as I have in these two days!” Like him, I feel surrounded by the love of God’s people, Wesley Heirs. Sweet memories and fellowship with dear friends drew me to attend Wesley Heirs at the beautiful Blue Lake setting, even by myself.