Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Personal Retreat Day

Yesterday, I enjoyed a personal rejuvenation retreat at the Peaks of Otter in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. For 35 years, this peaceful place has served as a respite for me and my family.

Camp outs when the children were young
Nature walks
Hiking to Sharp Top
Anniversary dinners overlooking the lake
Meeting friends to share a quiet breakfast
More picnics than I can count

Grandchildren forging new territory in the rippling creek beds
Ranger talks
Early Sunday morning church services in the amphitheater
Long, lazy talks around a crackling campfire
Gooey Smores
Hunter's Stew
BBQ chicken wrapped in foil and placed in hot embers
A raccoon sneaking Cheese Nips from my husband's hand
A banana peel neatly left on the stone table (also the work of a raccoon)

Laughter in the tent.
Awkward trips up the gravel path to the bathroom, a single flashlight beam piercing the darkness.
Thoughts processed, Scripture read, favorite book highlights discussed while gazing into the fire.
Tears of joy at the Creator's work in and through our lives.
A deer family frozen in the brush, eyeing us, we eyeing them.
Then a graceful bound, rustling leaves, and no more deer.
A snake warming itself on a rock in early spring.
A spontaneious escape from cabin fever in February. Patches of snow. Garbage bags retrieved from the car trunk. Multiple runs down the small slope. Squeals of delight. Cheeks ruddy and plump.
Hot cocoa in the lounge, fire blazing, checkers waiting.

So many rich memories! My personal retreat day welcomed them all back, savoring them like a fine chocolate.

In need of rest and refreshment, I packed a water bottle, lunch, satchel filled with my Bible, journal, camera, other enriching books, camping chair, and good shoes, and set out.

Forty minutes later, I pulled into a quiet spot overlooking the serene lake. Overcast skies gradually cleared to blue while I read, slept, jotted notes, prayed, and reflected on my journey over the past year and a half--a rich time of housing our grown missionary children, each family in various stages of their ministry. With seven grandchildren and two foster grands adding excitement to the mix.

What laughter, joy, and yes, frustration and exhaustion at times.

But I wouldn't trade any of it for any amount of money!

Yet, an intentional day away proved exhilarating . . .

Placid water with gentle current.
Lush greenery.
Rambling trails.
Gift shop full of locally-designed and fired pottery, cards, lavender saches, and miscellaneous confections.
A walk. A pause to study a fern leaf or a giant oak with branches stretched heavenward.
A yearning. A cry to God. A filling.
Peace. Joy. Love.
A new dream that only God can bring to light.
A calm assurance in God's hand at work in those I love.

Ah..h.h.h.h.h.h.......a perfect personal retreat day. 

Peaks of Otter official website

For your personal retreat or group retreat


chappydebbie said...

Looks so relaxing....nice pictures.

Eileen Rife said...

Oh, it was so wonderful, Debbie! I found a new quiet place not far from my home as well. So peaceful. Can feel the Lord's presence in a special way.

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