Monday, September 20, 2010
5 1/2 Reasons to Go On a Retreat - Or Make Excuses to Hang out at the Beach
I have been on men's retreats on and off over the years. It's usually church to the 4th power. You arrive on Friday, and there is an evening meeting. Saturday you get 2 more meetings and Sunday you get another one in place of regular church. Some of the guys go for a walk, others play a little golf, and the rest play cards Saturday afternoon. And the food, there is plenty of that. The whole thing can be exhausting - and you end up sleeping with someone that snores loud enough to set off the tsunami "early warning alarms" in the South Pacific.
And then there are men being men - it's not a pretty sight. I wonder how some of them ever got married!?!
This one was different. First, I didn't know anyone - new church, new faces, bad with names - a losing combination, I thought.
Well, I liked it - the weather was perfect, and God was afoot. Here are a few reason you might want to go to your men's retreat if you get a chance (or start one if you don't).
-1 Beer: This one had beer, oh and wine. I don't drink, but some of the guys seemed to have a great time without getting stupid. As an alcoholic; sober for a long time, I find that miraculous.
-2 Lobster: There is nothing like North Atlantic Lobster - well, maybe Wellfleet Oysters. I love seafood, and the bounty of the sea is a real spiritual treat - especially when you sit at a table with a bunch of guys you don't know.
-3 Games: These guys should have their own game show! This retreat could have passed for an episode of Wide World of Sports with Howard Cosell. At any one time there was a game of Baggo, a game of Rook (Pentecostal Poker) or Ticket to Ride going on. I've never played any of them - but I am getting pretty good at Rook. It's interesting what happens when there is no TV or Internet. And other than a few "check in with the wife" calls, there were no cell phones.
-4 Fishing: If I didn't have bad luck, I wouldn't have any at all. For the others, however; that was a different story. The Blue Fish and Stripped Bass were hitting, and hitting hard. The pastor caught over 120 lbs of "stripers" in about an hour Sunday morning - yeah 5 over 20lbs each. And no, they weren't a sermon illustration.
-5 Devotions: One of the guys did devotions; there were just two. One was about the overflowing "cup." The other about taking a Sabbath - you know, not being a 9 commandment Christian. He read about how Jesus hung out with Peter and his mother - just hung out, loving, eating and drinking. Who knows, maybe even Jesus play Rook?
-5 1/2 Free time to hang out...
Let me interpret "free time" because what happened during that, was the most amazing. In the midst of conversation or a walk along the beach, we got to know each other. One shared the heartache of an affair. Another shared his fear over a health condition. One of the guys was looking for work, and his friend was suffering from severe kidney failure. People have trouble, and it was a pleasure to stop and pray for them. One was healed, and we are waiting on doctors reports for a couple of others. Some of the guys cried, others laughed for the first time in a long time... that's why we need a Sabbath - a time to hang out.
How about you, do you take a day each week to hang out, and enjoy Jesus and his children? It's a quite a family you know.