Monday, April 24, 2006

Shrinemont II

We all made it to Shrinemont in one piece, had a great if damp time (yes, it rained on the mountain, as usual) and got home yesterday afternoon in time to do more packing of stuff, three loads of laundry, and arrange with the mover to take three-quarters of our stuff to storage while the house is being shown, plus take the stored stuff and the rest of the stuff to the new place in July sometime. Then we took StrongOpinions out to supper and crashed.

The ride out to Shrinemont was wonderful. The redbuds are all in bloom, with sprays of lavender flowers everywhere. Spring bulbs are two weeks behind us on the mountain, so we were treated to daffodils and tulips in bloom once again this spring. BearsDen Lodge, where the pedalers and I spent Thursday night, is right at the crest of the Blue Ridge, with an overlook that gives you a great view of the whole valley. The Appalachian Trail abuts the lodge. I brought massive quantities of food (beef stew with noodles, pasta al forno for vegetarians, salad, bread, killer brownies, and Russian tea cake cookies) for dinner. I drove up with one of the pedalers who was only riding the second day. It was an odd feeling to be the only woman in a bunch of men (the only woman rider didn't get to the lodge until 11 pm). Our group consisted of 3 men who cycled 60 miles out to the lodge the first day, a woman and four men who drove out to join us for the second day's cycling of 80 miles, plus me as sag wagon driver, chief cook and water girl. Breakfast the next morning was pancakes, bacon, sausage, and fresh fruit. Our doughty pedalers ranged in age from 26 to 56. We were blessed. No one needed to ride in the sag wagon with me, despite some monster hill climbs. No major mechanical failures, no injuries, no harsh words spoken. And only a little rain on the trail the first few miles of the second day, and the last mile push into Shrinemont. A cheering group awaited with the "finish line" tape as the cyclists rode into ShrineMont in their matching polkadot "King of the Mountain" St. P's cycling jerseys.

The retreat was wonderful, with a guest speaker who gave us a workshop on life's transitions, as illustrated by key passages from scripture. We had the usual wide range of other activities, like soccer and softball, a fishing derby for the kids, the talent show, late-night socializing around the fire in many of the cabins, and a wonderful if wet Eucharist service Sunday morning at the outdoor shrine. Poor Father Samuel got halfway through his sermon with the rain began again. We stayed put while he wrapped up the sermon, then we decamped to the tiny screen-enclosed chapel behind the shrine to complete the service. 250 people in a space designed for a mere 150. damp clothing, antsy kids, no sound system. and yet, utterly wonderful.

Wonderful moments:
- no cellphone or BlackBerry service, although they had WiFi at the main hotel building for the few crazed people who brought laptops
- getting to meet some new members of our parish, who were with us at ShrineMont for the first time
- meeting the elderly parents of a few of our parishioners, who came along for the adventure
- seeing one father, who is in the last stages of cancer, spend a happy weekend with his family away from hospital or hospice or everyday cares
- seeing one of our toddlers, a beautiful little girl of three who was adopted from China, herself adopt a new "grandma", Ba, whose son died suddenly and tragically last year
- having incredible country-style cooking with no regard for the calories and carbs
- early morning walks with geese flying in pairs overhead and a skunk passing in front of me on the road and (blessedly) ignoring me
- talking about my call to ministry with friends who were genuinely interested and supportive.

All in all, a good weekend. Pictures will follow.

1 comment:

see-through faith said...

all good. I'm so envious and waiting for the pics