I told you we don't take ourselves too seriously.
While I was at the store getting the nun outfit I found a banana costume. Who can resist dressing up in a banana outfit?
What's not to like about dressing up in a banana suit? It was on Clearance after Halloween. I just had to buy it. It helps me find my "inner child" and that was the whole theme of the retreat: "Like a Child."
OK, so my own Inner Child is not usually very hard to find but maybe it helped give others permission to find hers.
We had three keynote sessions led by Traci Truly to explain the theme to us with a communion service Sunday morning. In between keynote we left most of Saturday open for the ladies to choose how they want to spend their time. Some of the activities for free time included canoeing, crafts, bird watching, afternoon tea with a showing of Downton Abbey. Then we had a Taize service, antique shopping in town, bingo, massages, singing around an evening campfire eating S'mores, and a bible study in the afternoon. We always explain that in the midst of all the free time fun activities there's also the option called "Doing Absolutely Nothing." We are a mixture of ages--some retired and some working 40 hours a week with children at home. So, for the overworked, the "Nothing" option holds its own special delight.
For some of us just catching up with each other and telling stories was fun. I could have sat all day listening to Linda Peavy's stories. Especially the story of the time her daddy was driving a hearse for the town funeral home and offered a hitchiker a lift with a corpse in the back. That reminded me to tell my story about the time Kit and I went to the wrong viewing room at a crowded funeral home and burst out laughing when we found a total stranger in the coffin then couldn't stop laughing. So then Dana had to tell the story about.....well, you get the picture. For some reason the subject of death always has really some funny stories.
It was a good weekend with old friends and new.The weather was perfect Thank you, God. The food was great. How many camps do you visit where the food was so good everyone asked the cooks for recipes? The Broccoli Salad recipe is now posted to the retreat facebook page.
The best part for some people was going down the zipline. Gilmont has had a zipline for a couple of years now but we never thought to use it until this year. I'm sure the prevailing instinct was that the zipline was for the kids and a retreat full of 85 women, most of us "mature", wouldn't be interested. But when I asked last year how many women would enjoy it the whole table raised their hands. And we had our theme, "Like a Child."
It turns out that it's really hard to get a picture of someone zipping past you going 100 miles an hour. Nancy took a great video of Candy going down the zipline upside down (on purpose). After you finish watching the youtube you'll have to click on the arrow to come back here.
However, the best zipline moment was actually about an hour long and came when our oldest "zipper", 77-year old Joan, climbed to the top of the pole and zipped down. It took a lot of time, courage and physical determination but she got a standing ovation back in the meeting room that evening when she walked in.
With the theme, "Like a Child" we were free to explore all the aspects of being a child again. We decorated the tables with retro toys. We gave away Slinkys and Etch-a-Sketches. We played hopscotch on the concrete.
The music pulled from favorite childhood tunes and, of course was the most basic," Jesus Loves Me." There is just something about the sound of 85 women singing that is really beautiful
Here's another video I took for the sound more than the sight. It's from our Taize service Saturday night and if you haven't ever heard of Taize, I encourage you to look it up on Google.
I always learn something at a retreat. All I have to do is wait and pay attention. The revelation this time came almost at the end. During worship Sunday morning Traci included a Children's Sermon because of the theme. She encouraged a few of us to come forward and sit on the floor. Without any further prompting we all fell into the scene we've watched countless times: acting like childrren. Traci supplied each of us with a small container of play doh. Her intention was to guide us through the Genesis story. But the minute we got our hands on the play doh, we started throwing it at each other, asking off-topic questions, wandering around, complaining about the others.....all the things we've seen the children do in church.
When she finally got us settled down and proceeded to read the story we "created" along with God using our Play Doh: starting with a great void then splitting into light and darkness, then the earth separated from the waters, trees. fish and animals appeared, and finally, humanity. With each new creation we formed something out of our play doh.
By this time I was fully into being a child and thinking as a child does. So when God declared the creation was good, without hesitation or question I gave my ball of play doh a big kiss.
I can still smell and taste the playdoh. And I wonder if God can, too. Can God still smell the dirt from that first moment of creation? Does it smell like Springtime? Like the outdoors smells now? Like the pines? And the grass? And flowers? I think from now on whenever I feel the warmth of the sun on my cheeks, the kiss of the sun, I will remember God's pleasure in our earth and its inhabitants. Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only son..........but he also kissed our earth with pleasure and satisfaction.
When I was a child a neighbor had this sign in her garden:
The kiss of the sun for pardon.Now, it's time to go outside and plant our gardens.
The song of the birds for mirth.
One's nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.