Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Women's Retreat

Guess where I went this weekend?  The picture below kind of looks like I went to Hawaii, doesn't it?  Well, that is incorrect.  Hopefully, one day, I'll go there.  Instead of a cliff overlooking the Pacific, that my friends, is the Tennessee River, home to nuclear waste and over-sized catfish.  

And it is magical.  
Especially when I'm looking over the cliff while sitting talking to a friend.
Especially when we're there by ourselves because everyone was in a session.
Especially because everyone is so relaxed and happy that they don't seem to mind that we played hooky.

For me, it was a little like going back in time.  I was on a women's retreat with my church and we stayed at the camp that I went to growing up.  Summer camp is HUGE in the life of a child-preteen-teenager.  

Part of me enjoyed the memories of being a young camper.  Awe.  Staying in bunk beds with strangers turned friends.  Walking everywhere.  Trying new camp activities for the first time...I remember canoeing.  Wow, part of me felt like a true outdoorsy gal and part of me was terrified of tipping the boat over and being in the open water.  No camp memories would be complete without mentioning boys.  I went when I was in the awkward stage of thinking how dreamy it must be to have a boyfriend, but at the same time being completely terrified of actually having one.  Oh.the.drama.

Thank goodness there was no drama this time.
A bunch of women in the woods away from our individual routines...we were giddy.  

The retreat was only 24 hours.  We only had one night there, which meant I only had one morning there.

Question:What's better than going to the woods at 8:40?
Answer: Waking up in the middle of the woods!  

A few of the ladies liked taking pictures like I do, and they had no shame when getting out there ultra long-lensed cameras and taking pictures of everything and everyone.  I love when people take pictures, because it makes me feel ok to take pictures.  And sometimes I need a little encouragement to help me have the courage to pull my camera out and do the same.

Before going to bed {at 12:30 am}, I told one of the ladies that I was going to get up early and go take pictures.  A big smile crossed her face and she sat up straight and said, "ohmygosh!  That sounds like so much fun!"  We made plans to get up early and go.  However, we woke up at different times and ended up going solo.  We crossed each other on one of the trails and she told me, "you've gotta go down to the water!  There is so much cool stuff to photograph!"

I went down the the "beach" and snapped a couple of pictures.  I stood in awe of the mist rising off the water; the lone fisherman on the boat; the jumping fish; the blue herring flying inches across the surface of the water; and my favorite: the smooth glass-like river, quiet and grand, waiting for a day of activity.  

Once I got my fill of the water front, well, really I just got hungry for breakfast and eager for coffee, I walked back to the dining hall.  The long way.  That little walk will go down in history as one of the coolest things I've done.  I was one with nature, or as close as I have ever been.  All 5 senses were on overdrive.  Or at least the senses that are usually a little slow came alive a bit.  Let's be honest: tasting is always working at max capacity.  

As for smell, I was in heaven.  Nothing has ever smelled more pure, more right, or more holy.  Really, I couldn't get over how it smelled.  It was a combination of mist, honeysuckle, and awesome.  If it was a scented candle, then I would call it Crisp Morning.

As for sound, all I heard was nature.  Nature. Birds. Bugs. Wind. I loved it so much, but this coming from the girl who asked for Rain Forest and Ocean CD's for Christmas when I was in middle school.  Nerd-alert.  Oh well.  In my mind, I was Snow White, singing right back to them.

As for sight, I remember thinking that I couldn't get it all in fast enough.  I was looking up and I was looking down, but rarely I looked straight ahead.  Ugh.  I remember looking down at my feet covered in dew and forest debris, while standing in a pile of leaves and snapping a picture. Oh, even my feet love the earth!  I channeled Annie Dillard and was writing my own experience of the woods, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Vesper Point.

That was one good 10 minute walk.  Oh, to have that experience daily!

I talked to a friend today who was on the retreat.  I asked her if she had a good time, and she said yes.  Her exact quote, "are you kidding me?  You could have asked me to go up there to clean toilets and cabins and I would have been happy!"  Heck yeah!  I totally agree with that!  One day in the woods with a bunch of cool ladies from different stages of life!  What's not to love?  The sessions could have been awful with awful teaching, and I would have loved it.  I was at camp.  As an adult.  Again, what's not to love!?!

Just for the record, the sessions weren't awful.  They were great and the ladies were great.  I was encouraged, refreshed, and had one heck of a time with Creation.  I'm about one serenity moment away from selling all my belongings and making my family live off the grid.  Something a little bit like this song.


  1. Oh my goodness, I am so happy you posted this, My heart is yearning for CVP and it's only a month until it becomes my life! Ahhhhh CAMP CAMP CAMP!

  2. I know where you can live off the grid, surrounded by nature,and the land is free! Plus a pool in the future.

  3. It was good, wasn't it? Wish I could have joined you with my camera....next year sans baby!

  4. I love that you're having so much fun shooting. Keep it up. It makes fun and beautiful posts for your readers. :)


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