16 November 2006

island life

Truthfully, I'm not sure how to describe my last few days. I've been on retreat, again (we repeated the retreat we hosted 2 weeks ago), only this time we were on Bowen Island, British Columbia. Which hopefully you can see on this cool little map.

First learning: Things will be different!!
Even though I laid down expectation that because this was a new group at a new location that it would be a different experience, I still wasn't prepared. The atmosphere differed. The spiritual intensity differed. The discussion and conversations differed. The worship and prayer time differed.

Second learning: Different doesn't equal bad.
Despite the differences, we know the value of each person who sacrificed time in their work and family life to participate in this retreat. And we were blessed by each other. Greatly.

Third: Retreats without electricity rule!
That is, to the person who wakes up on the final morning of the retreat, pondering how we all have to rush to catch the 12:30 ferry off the island, and wishes we could stay and relax for one more day. Ha! That's me, of course, and so when the storm was really wild (HUGE crashing waves!!!) and the electricity kept flashing and finally gave out, AND then, the report came that the ferry was NOT running, naturally, I was elated. Sure I had a plane to catch...in Seattle. But this was adventure!!!

Fourth: Retreat after the retreat.
That's the beauty of what happened. Not that we packed the "formal" retreat schedule. But waiting for word on ferry service in a local pub interupted by brash, yet helpful updates from the wait staff while sitting in candle, fire, and kerosene lantern light as the winds howled and waves crashed off the shore, well, it was restful, and unscheduled, and delightful.

Fifth: Breathe in the beauty of island life.
When the latest word that we would get off the island arrived and we waited expectantly in our lineup of cars only to hear yet another delay report, we received another snapshot of island life and culture. A young coffee shop owner knocked on all our car windows to invite us to their wee shop for free tea and free sandwiches. As we approached (snug cafe), we noted that the shop was lit up because an electric truck, waiting in line for the ferry, was spotlighting the shop with their big ol lights. How cool is that?! As we go inside, they hand us tea. They offer us free sandwiches. Then they break out the cookies. Plus they adamently refuse a tip or a payment, AND apologize to us for the blackout? It was some outrageous hospitality.

I love that. I wish we experienced it all the time. Wouldn't our world be cooler if such experiences didn't happen only in crisis or chaos or emergency? Or would that make them less novel? Somehow, I hope against that. Wouldn't it be amazing if we channeled our competitive drive into "out doing" people around us in generous hospitality? Our opening conversation instead of the weather might be, "hey, did you hear what so and so did for..." or some such report??

I've heard of this man, actually, whose life and experiences provoked such responses and reports. And the more I hear about him, the more I want to be like him. Hmmm...it shouldn't necessitate living an island life. But it couldn't hurt.


bon said...

I miss you- when are you coming home? Ok enough whinning, but I really do miss you- I'll be interested in hearing about your trip- hope ya had a great time with fam too. Glad you made it off the island- otherwise we'd have to have a Michigan version of LOST- hee hee- See ya soon!
p.s. sometimes those letters you have to type in ARE hard to make out!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Gracie - Good to hear from you again! Sounds like you're having a good trip. See ya'

Gracie said...

Hi Bon,
U've been having so much fun without me I can't imagine it. (but I'm glad. The Jars concert and Karen's report made me all shades of envious!! But alas, nothing I can do.) I sooo know what u're talking about with the letters. Sometimes I get the crabby error message and have to do it all over again. Jeepers. I'm hoping to show up in time for your party if the flights, etc. go well. Will we play cards??? I'm taking another 5 decks from my parents. C u soon!

Julia, thanks for stopping by. I've been enjoying your John's thoughts, too. See u after thanksgiving. Give Amy an extra hug for me this week, please!!