Thursday, February 23, 2006

In Retreat

I just finished a Stress Day From Hell, in the context of a Stress Week From Hell -- I had my annual performance review this afternoon (positive but extremely anxiety-provoking), followed a few hours later by an equally anxiety-provoking forelock-tugging, hat-in-hand presentation to a local agency that helps fund one of our programs at work. So I'm thrilled to be taking a vacation day and heading off to my quarterly lay ministry retreat tomorrow and Saturday. Actually, I'm just heading down the road a few miles; the location this time is so close that I'm commuting...a fact that may have some of you scratching your heads, thinking, "What sort of retreat is that?"

Well, sometimes I think the same thing. Sometimes I'd love to spend a weekend at a real retreat house, somewhere far away, in solitude and silence.

But our retreats are like concentrated seminary. We're spending the weekend engrossed in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark -- an intrepid seminary professor is coming all the way to the general environs of Outer Podunk to teach us -- and we're also going to learn about the purpose and structure of the liturgy from one of our regional pastoral mentors, an excellent teacher who's just a delight to listen to. We're going to worship; we take turns helping with this. We're going to break out into small groups and talk about Life, the Universe and Everything. My pastor's going to be a resource pastor at this event, which will be kind of cool; the resource pastors preside over our retreat Eucharist and then just hang out with us. We're going to eat, a lot -- dietary asceticism not being a value at these shindigs, thanks to the various church ladies and gents who tend to feed us to the gills.

I admit to enjoying an occasional weekend away from the old homestead. Those of you who travel muchly, perhaps unhappily, might find it either hilarious or sad that I can find delight in sitting up in a hotel bed in my jammies, channel-surfing, or playing with the whirlpool function in the bathtub, or people-watching in the public areas. I'm just very easily amused.

Tomorrow, though, I'm heading home at 9:30 pm -- which will make both my dog and my mother very happy -- and heading back to the theology corral bright and early Saturday. I might even manage a blog entry or two in the middle of all this.

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