Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength. It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.
We live in a world starved for silence and solitude. Sometimes we don’t even realize how deep these longings are until we get away to a quiet place. Ruby Buckle and some of her friends, old and new, stole away on a lovely October weekend for this very purpose. Autumn in Minnesota this year has been relatively cool and wet, so it was extra delightful to head north to retreat to a secluded place with this beautiful group of women – complete with three glorious days of sunshine!
Our gracious hostess Sandy, a new friend, opened her lovely home and stuga (a Swedish bunkhouse) for our gathering. The picturesque lakeside setting invited us to rest. An occasional gust of wind would set the leaves ablaze with color dancing through the air, invigorating soul and spirit. Even the wind chimes singing in the distance seemed to be “rejoicing in hope.”
It was a delight in every sense of the word. We read the book of Mark together and reviewed Roy Lessin’s The Holy Spirit Book. We had prepared our hearts for deep and rich conversation during our time together; each person took the time to read the book before we gathered.
Hours set aside to spend time in our Bibles and in books that challenge us to press into the deep things of God are never wasted! I agree with Isaac Watts: Talking over the things you have read with your companions fixes those things in your mind. It was proven true as we studied together over the days spent by the water’s edge.
We shared our stories and some of our deepest hurts, and we prayed for each other. It never ceases to amaze me how God brings together people who share common bonds of suffering. There are connections so real that tears come quickly. I’ve seen it countless times on the journey of faith, and it was true of our group too. (I’ll share another example of this kind of heart-connection in my next post.)
At the close of a full day, the winds ceased and the waves stilled, making it a perfect night for a campfire. I confess I was dreaming about the fire for days beforehand. I love campfires and the scent of woodsmoke, and there isn’t a better time of year for one than fall. The people in the home behind ours have set their fire ring ablaze many times during the recent months, but I’ve experienced fewer than normal because of a landscaping and concrete project seriously delayed by the previously mentioned rains. All autumn I've watched my neighbors' fires with a bit of envy.
One of our retreaters had an allergy to woodsmoke, so she and a friend watched from the house above us, overlooking the fire. One of the women around our campfire tried to FaceTime our friends in the house for sharing time around the fire, but she accidentally called the husband of her indoor companion. I suppose the laughter began when we heard her trying to explain that she actually was with his wife, just not together. She made another attempt to call our indoor companion and got the husband again via the home landline. Did I mention how remote our location was? We’ll blame it on the cell service.
I honestly can’t recall the last time that I laughed so hard at our friend's comedy of errors. We all did. The laughter shared was as valuable as the tears. A very special thank you to the friends who were part of this exceptional getaway. It’s a memory tucked in with some of my favorites!
Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 51:11b NIV