“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.” – Marcus Aurelius
According to Merriam-Webster, a retreat is “a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director.” Of course, I think that in the Aurelius quotation above, the second definition, “a place of privacy or safety,” fits more precisely.
In either case, I retreated to a ladies’ retreat in the Ochoco Mountains of Central Oregon. I chauffeured my mother and my pastor’s wife on the nine-hour round-trip excursion to the east, over the hills (Mt. Hood) and through the woods (Mt. Hood National Forest, for one) to the 24-hour refuge from the daily grind.
Since the retreat’s theme was “Recipe for Success,” I was expecting to collect a few recipes. Maybe I’ll even have time to test them out during the up and coming winter months. Three speakers were announced with topics of “Recipe for Success with Family,” “Recipe for Success with Friends,” and “Recipe for Success with God.” It seemed like this theme was going to drive the day of respite from the cares of this world.
In fact, I didn’t pick up any cooking recipes, except one for peanut brittle that will burn your mouth. Why? It includes cayenne pepper with the sugar, water and peanuts. Whew! There was no sweet with that spicy in my mouth. I prefer the regular kind, thanks, even if it sticks to my teeth.
Other than only getting four hours of sleep and sitting in a car for 10 hours over the past 36 hours, this retreat was very refreshing. Each of the presenters had unique perspectives to offer on their given topics. We had a few laughs when we played some silly games.
It was refreshing to show up somewhere without being weighted by a burden of expectations. I didn’t expect ultimate entertainment, just peace. No one expected me to measure up to any standards or perform any grand feats. In short, it was relaxing.
The area was beautiful. Deep in the forest, we had several four-legged guests. I preferred the deer and the gophers over the tree frog that tried to take a shower with me.
The food was delicious. Ever notice how things taste better when you don’t have to cook them? We had Chicken Cordon Blue with rice and Hollandaise Sauce for dinner. Even though we sat on wooden benches in a stuffy mess hall, it was a meal worthy of a four-star restaurant.
It’s pretty humorous how teenage-like grown women can act when you stick them in a dormitory with 30 other women. Cackling laughter and embarrassed shrugs would be the most appropriate details I could share from these moments. (Go ahead and try to imagine something. If I hint that my experience revolves around drinking vanilla or a bra, would that help? You’ll never guess it in a million years.)
Even though I met a few new women, it was too short of a time for forming any real bonds. It looks like next year it will be longer, which should promote friendship building. On the other hand, I won’t get to be “expectation-less.” Our ladies have volunteered to be the hosts.
What makes a retreat successful for you? Help me reach my goal of five comments on a post and I’ll do a back handspring with double- twisting somersault. Whoops! No, I can’t do any of those things physically, but I’ll do them mentally and emotionally if you help me expand my blog commentary section.