Sunday, May 19, 2013

New Day Retreat

As many of you know I spent this weekend in Rhinelander at a retreat for my physical home church.  I had such a wonderful experience I thought I would share some of it on my blog here.  You know in the world at large I can often end up very busy and strained to keep everything moving at a pace that seems like it's appropriate.  I can run, run, run trying to bring in the flock as fast as possible.  And doing that I can often miss the most important experiences, and most memorable moments.

I spent a great deal of time roaming in the wilderness before my heart was humbled enough to give my life over to Jesus.  In that time I learned full the difficulties of the world around us, that many do not see in the church.

Experience is rather equipping.

Being on the grounds was great.  Because we didn't have to lock the car.  I didn't have to worry when I left my belongings on the deck with the others.  I knew they were well.

The retreat was just blooming with spring.  I walked around the grounds constantly, listening to Life & Limb.

Honestly, I had trouble just settling down and relaxing.  Constantly I was thinking about ULC and my responsibilities there.  I constantly thought about work starting.  I kept picking up my text book for Old Testament Survey.

But it was great to spend time with my Mother.  It was good to make amends, and set our relationship on the path to rightness.

Thankfully I didn't bring my laptop.

There were about thirty core members of the New Day Christian Church ministry that were roaming about the grounds.  There were about eight or nine cabins mingled about the woods on the banks of a beautiful lake.  Ducks and loons wandered about the waters.  A large dining hall and meeting building built of north wood sat atop a hill near the entrance.

The kids, which made up about half of our group, ran about the woods constantly chasing each other around and doing kid stuff.

My mother and I stayed at the Doug Roberts meeting center.  There were eight rooms all filled with New Day members, my mother and I were on the ground floor.  It was a beautiful building, well kept, just off the water.  We sat down by the water when we first got there, just relaxing and staring out across the lake.  We talked about the Bible and the 12 steps, and just learning to live a Christian worldview.  And that wasn't hard to see.  And it wasn't hard to see that it was right.  There was a genuine peace across the camp.  It felt safe.  It felt right, because we knew all of us believed in the same savior and the same God.
Pastor Aaron and his wife stopped by, and we followed them up to eat dinner on Friday night.  At dinner I got some insight on his methods of ministry.  Good advice for my own ministry.  After that we came back.  I was sitting in the living room of the Roberts cabin, and Pastor Aaron came in.  He sat down by me with his guitar, laid out some sheet music, and we sang some songs.  It was fun.

I used to jam out with people when I was in college at the UW, but I hadn't done it in years.  It had been a major passion of mine for sometime.  The group sat out by the water and we had a wonderful bon fire.  I was very tired, but it was still nice.

I have a hard time relaxing, and an even harder time socializing.  This became clear to me at the bon fire Friday night.  I've always had a hard time connecting with others, and just being, but it was clear then.  But I took it as it was.  I just kind of sat back, and listened to everyone.  I enjoyed watching them having a good time.  But I felt burdened by the ministry, and just starting to come into it.  As I am now.

It's hard.  It's very hard.  I'm learning ten things at once, it seems these days, all at the same time.  These are important things to learn, but it is also incredibly taxing on my mind and body.  God is training my soul and body, I can see that much.  It's a very difficult learning process though.  I'm a man of solitude, or so I've become in recent years.

This is a process that pulls me far, far from my comfort zone.  Such is uncomfortable.  Very, very, very.. very, uncomfortable.  But I'm adjusting.  I just get tired.  I lay down a lot, and just try to settle down.

As much as the retreat was a chance to relax and get it away, it was a hard look inward at what my past did to me and the work that is still to be done.

I went for a jog at nightfall Friday, after putting out the fire.  Everyone had gone inside.  I jogged along, listening to the crickets chirping and the frogs singing.  I've always been transfixed utterly by the night.  It is powerful and beautiful to me.

Saturday was a rest day.  I was very tired once again, but still managed to go for several walks with my mother.  We got to talk about a lot of important things from the past and for the future.  It was nice.  I came back and just laid down around 3 pm and slept right through dinner.

Once again there was a bon fire, and the whole New Day crew was there.  Pastor Aaron and I once again got a chance to talk a bit.  He told me some about the history of New Day.  He told me about how several founding members including himself had all gone to the same high school.  I talked about being raised Catholic and the impact it had on my walk with Christ.

Once again, I took a walk that night and wandered through the night transfixed by the night sky and the listened to music.

Sunday was wonderful.  Mother and I awoke, sat down for a brief breakfast.  Then we went downstairs into the meeting room for our Sunday worship service.  Aaron, and several of the music team sat down with acoustic guitars and we sang some wonderful songs.  It was really on that Saturday night, when we were all sitting around the campfire talking about the church I felt a part of a true spiritual family under God.  It was a communion between brothers and sisters I could hardly explain, but it felt like a preview.  A piece of what the next life will be like.

Once again I found myself in that holy place in my heart as we sang songs that morning.  The core family of New Day, singing all together..  it was wonderful.

The last song we sang was called "All The Way Home."  It felt very fitting.

'You lead me with your fire,
by night you keep your hand on me,
You lead me with your clouds,
by day you lead me on my way,

All the way, all the way, all the way home

All the way home I'm dreaming,
All the way home I run,
All the way home I'm laughing
All the way home, here I come"