Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day at Shrine Mont

A very happy Father's Day to all of the father's out there today! My celebration comes on the heels of a very relaxing and very rejuvenating three-day weekend at the retreat center for the Episcopal diocese of Virginia, Shrine Mont. After trying for two years to make what is an annual parish weekend for our church, we finally made it (three times a charm!) into the foothills of the Shenandoah Valley for a refreshing time with old and new friends alike.

No phones, no blackberries, no computers (a tribute, perhaps, to "Gilligan's Island" -- "no phone, no light, no motor car"?). As someone who depends on each of those every day (more than I should, in fact), I can honstly admit that I didn't miss a minute of the technology that makes the world go 'round. The only sounds we heard during the weekend were the sounds of singing, children playing, laughter, great conversation, and wonderful communal prayer. Good mountain air does wonders for the body, and the quiet does wonders for the soul -- so everyone in my family came back to the routine of our lives greatly regenerated.

The homily at our closing Eucharist this morning included the admonition that we should take a small part of our weekend back into the world as a seed to plant and nurture, and in so doing bring our witness more actively into our everyday lives. There were so many incidents great and small that would certainly provide good seeds, and I'm sure the community as a whole will be greatly enriched for what each of us at Shrine Mont carried away with us.

For me, one seed would be the love shared by the community of our church at this retreat (a love that abounds always), and which can and should be shared with others. Another seed would be the value and enjoyment of the special, quiet moments that I spent with my family and with our friends.

However, my most special seed would be the thrill of sitting by the lake with my little girl on our first night there, listening to nothing but the sounds of nature, her questions about what we were hearing coming out of the darkness, and her laughter and joy at just being there.

I can't think of any greater Father's Day gift than that.

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