I'm writing to you from a retreat.
"Where would LutheranChik have access to a computer during a retreat?" you may be asking, as you imagine some quiet, low-tech convent where we're all occupied in contemplative practice, or an off-the-grid church camp somewhere in the woods. Well, for this retreat we're esconced in the nicely appointed conference center of our state 4-H association and my alma mater's extension office. This place rocks -- there's a variety of room options, but we have extremely comfortable hotel-like rooms, plus a cafeteria with wonderful food, free hot coffee in real cups all day long (no wonder we Looterns keep scheduling retreats here), a computer lab and extra stations scattered about as well as wi-fi, and a beautiful main lounge with a real crackling fireplace. The center is located in one of the more scenic areas of northern Michigan, in the hilly woodlands around Cadillac; there are groomed hiking trails in the woods, and a lake just down the hill.
We've been studying the epistles -- Paul's, and those written in his name, and the books of I Peter and James. I had an "aha" moment this evening while we were discussing I Peter, a book I've frankly not been that fond of in the past because of misogynist content and the sort of New Testament epistolary scoldiness that tends to rub me the wrong way; I had the opportunity to approach the text from a somewhat different perspective, thanks to our professor...I'll talk more about this later, but frankly I'm too beat right now to string my thoughts together coherently. Anyway, this is another reason why I think this type of educational experience for laypeople should be more available; dear God, please get us past wooden, one-dimensional and/or subjective "what this verse says to me" Bible studies.
Low notes: The ubiquitous presence of Aunt Flo (I met my ride this morning after a trip to the hospital for a prepartory blood workup before a visit to a specialist). A round of Church, Inc., shop talk that was so eerily similar to a bunch of businesspeople talking about marketing models that I wanted to run outside into the woods. A temporary loss of breath as The Troubles were very briefly touched upon in class...that didn't go anywhere, thank heavens.
We had our weekend Eucharist tonight, in a cabin down the way...we sat in a circle and followed a sort of Evensong/Compline hybrid liturgy with a belated All Saints' Day theme, and we communed one another using Communion ware a pastor who is also a potter made especially for our program. We sang a lot -- songs people can belt out with gusto like "For All the Saints" and "I, The Lord of Sea and Sky." Our group is a singing group -- they love to sing, and sing well; I feel like the choral version of Ugly Betty next to them.
Meanwhile, I'm told that, back home, The Codeman is having a grand old time at Camp Fellow Traveler, although he had a low note of his own when his retriever friend Cassie stole his stuffed toy, a battered and slobbery plush dog -- whodathunk my dour pooch would ever warm up to a "lovey" -- and made him angry enough to go after her, all ten pounds of him. (And the funny thing is, the Big Blondes back down when Shorty goes on the warpath.) He has developed a real love connection with Mollie the cat, and vice versa; perhaps because they're both little and outnumbered and contrarian in personality. And he also loves his buddy Charlie from next door, who comes over for treats four or six or ten times a day; it's a male bonding thing. (I get regular Cody bulletins, written in first person, when he's being dog-sat.)
All of which is to say...not a lot of retreating going on here. (My neighbor at the next computer station is surfing eBay.) But there's a lot of learning, and some worshipping and praying. And that's all right.
P.S. We were greeted at the door by a signboard identifying the weekend's guests. Our group was referred to as "Lutheran Lay." For some reason I thought this was pretty funny.