Retreat is mountain-top time

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 16, 2013

As I traveled to beautiful Blue Lake Methodist Camp near Andalusia, I kept thinking about the showers that dumped enough water in my front yard to make it look like a lake. The rain had moved out by the time I left home, but I wondered about those from Birmingham, Montgomery, Baldwin County and West Florida. Had all that rain caused any of them to cancel their plans to arrive that day?

I was among a group of 14 or so from the Alabama-West Florida area who signed up for an extra night’s stay at Blue Lake before the Wesley Heirs (retired United Methodist ministers and spouses) retreat started the next day. During our October retreat, someone suggested that arriving early to spend an extra night was a great way to relax and enjoy more fellowship with friends we seldom saw otherwise. Enough people embraced the idea that our officers arranged it with Blue Lake director Phyllis Murray. And thankfully, the rain did not spoil any plans.

I anticipate these March and October Wesley Heirs retreats as I do my annual trips to dulcimer festivals. I was excited Monday because Ruth Eddins, a dear friend, would again be my roommate. A couple of years ago both of us showed up at the retreat without a roommate. We agreed to share a room. It was truly a blessing for me. She is so delightful. We have been roommates at Wesley Heirs retreats ever since. Now 90, she says that she needs me to look after her. Ha—this precious lady is joking! Ruth is so fit that she teaches and leads the line dancing group at Westminster Village in Spanish Fort where she lives.

The retreat is a mountain top experience for me. I depart feeling so up-lifted that it is hard to step back into my daily routine. It is wonderful to gather with old friends and make new acquaintances. We had opportunities to mingle, to take walks to enjoy the lakeside beauty of the grounds, to steal away for time alone with God, to sneak in a nap or to play dominoes and other games. Peals of laughter sometimes erupted from the game room. A snack table loaded with an unbelievable number of homemade goodies furnished by Wesley Heirs drew some of us back too many times.

Bishop and Mrs. Paul Leeland joined us for a day and he spoke briefly. Tuesday evening, one of our own retired ministers entertained us with a rib-tickling imitation of the late comedian Jerry Clower. Later we assembled in the chapel where we sang hymns with all the titles beginning with Jesus.

Wednesday we arose early for Holy Communion and a communion meditation. Later that morning a worshipful candle-lighting service commemorated clergy and spouses who had passed away since our last retreat.

After Wednesday lunch, it was time to say goodbye. I left praising God for the fellowship and worship experiences along with treasured time with my roommate Ruth.