Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Weekend Retreat—Carolyn R. Wilker

A get away? You bet!  It would be a weekend away from my usual household chores, my office, and my “to-do” list. I’ve been looking forward to this women’s event the way a child looks forward to Christmas. I filled out the registration form and sent it out in the mail the day it came.

No woman or mother gets away easily. It requires planning, getting laundry done, packing clothing for warm and cool weather, pulling the sleeping bag out of storage, and making a list. Add in grocery shopping and food preparation for one meal and snack the first night.

Three of us gathered Friday afternoon, waiting for the fourth member of our group. Deb arrived; she and her husband unloaded bags and packages from their car.

“Whose idea was it to meet at 5:00?” she joked.

 She’d no more than set her bags down beside the car when she let out a large sigh. I smiled with her, understanding the reason: It’s a feat of enormity for women to get away. After determining our supper location, we set off for the camp.

At the opening session, we played an informal game, matching a note about a treasured possession with the writer of that note. My note read: a pair of opal stud earrings. We walked around the room searching for the person who had written it, being asked about others' notes in the process. Afterwards, we shared what we had learned about the other person and the treasured possession. Thus the theme, Treasured.

Our retreat leader, Joanna, an ordained pastor of the Lutheran church (ELCIC), led us through the study. She said that even though we may feel small and insignificant at times, “We are God’s bling bling," meaning 'jewellery that makes a loud statement.'

I learned about 'bling bling' last fall when my eldest daughter showed me her engagement ring. I looked up the term to find that bling is actually a slang word.

 Just as a lump of coal turns to a diamond with much time, constant pressure and heat, we as women are also shaped by happenings in our lives. While we agreed that many of those experiences can be difficult, we are reminded that God is with us in those circumstances, carrying us when the load gets too heavy.

Between group sessions, we socialized, made a craft, ate together, laughed and shared our stories. We went for walks around Edgewood Camp—some of us taking the high road to the cliff—watching for trilliums, the great horned owl, as well as the fish in the stream, none of which my walking partners found on our walks.

 In small groups, we discussed how it feels knowing that the God of the universe values us as a prized possession, much as we value the particular thing we shared on Friday evening. Our leader reflected that most of those items were not high-priced items, but still precious to us.

 In our last session, we talked about a time in the previous week when we felt that light shining in our lives from someone around us, and how we can be a light to others. During the weekend, when I experienced physical pain, I also felt the loving care of others and God’s light shining through them.

Just outside of camp, heading home, Monica said, “It seems like a long time since Friday.” We had packed so much into those few days.

As I write this, I’m still pondering those discussions and the words of our leader, “We are God’s bling bling.” We are called to show that light in the world.

bridge over the creek
Cedar Lodge, our accommodations

Carolyn R. Wilker is an editor, speaker, storyteller and author of Once Upon a Sandbox


Bill Bonikowsky said...

Carolyn, was that retreat at Camp Mini-yo-We? I spent many summers there, as did my wife Joy. The reference to "Edgewoods" was what tipped me off.

Peter Black said...

I enjoyed being allowed a peek through the window into your ladies retreat (how else would we men find out what on earth goes on at them? ;) ).
You evidently had a very enriching time; thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn: I can identify with your retreat experience. I go in September, every second year,to a beautiful spot overlooking a lake, just outside of Halifax, NS. Along with the spiritual boost I receive, I have the wonderful opportunity to be accompanied by my daughter and daughter-in-law. We make a point of taking time to spend with each other and thank God that we have each other. It's a precious time for all three of us. God bless you, Bev Wamboldt

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Sorry to tell you, Bill, but it's not the camp you're thinking of, but a lovely camp in Ontario north of Guelph.
I'm sure the camp you speak of is beautiful and peaceful as well.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Hello Peter,
Your comment makes me laugh. Only the camp director comes by to remind us how to use the pellet stove and make sure things are alright. He also brought some maple syrup made at the camp. I bought some to take home.
Aside from some physical pain I experienced there, it was a good weekend. Thanks.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Anonymous Bev,
Thank you for your comment.Which lake near Halifax? We've been out that way and many of those spots are just so beautiful that I'd like to stay longer. God bless you too and thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn: The little lake is called "Third Pond" near Sambro Head on Rte. 349. It's south east of our famous Peggy's Cove. The camp is Bayside and operated by the Halifax Regional Association of the Atlantic Baptist Convention. Glad you enjoyed NS. Bev

Carolyn Wilker said...

We've been to Peggy's Cove, though it's been years. We've been to West Porter's Lake on the other side of Halifax. It's a community much like our Kawartha Lakes area in Ontario.
Thanks for stopping by.

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