Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shifting Gears...Moving Towards Retreat

We've been on a journey the last week or so.
A journey across time and geography,
and a journey that's taken some interesting
twists and turns.
Tomorrow, that journey heads inward
and things will take a definite change in direction.

The first journeying days were spent crossing time
as well as half the country.
We spent 5 days in Nashville, 
visiting some good friends from many years ago.
Friends whose lives have taken them down different byways
  than they could ever have foreseen - 
some of them wonderful, 
some of them hard and thorny.
It was good, really good, to be with them,
to see how their lives have unfolded,
to realize their children have grown to adulthood,
only one of their three left to fledge,
and he'll do that at the end of this school year.
Wasn't it only yesterday that I was the coordinator
for their wedding?
And then another yesterday when their daughter
was flower girl for our eldest daughter's?

Then we flew to San Antonio.
Good question.
Our plans got changed and I think maybe
God might have had some small thing to do with that.
And no, I'm not going to get all 
weird and woo-woo-ey on you here. 
It's just that there are those times when
things come together in surprising ways,
ways beyond your control, ways that cause you to
take a deep breath and ask,
"Really, Lord? Really?"

The result is that tomorrow morning,
we drive from this very hot, but beautiful city
out into the Texas hill country.
We're searching for a place that could probably
only be found in Texas:
a retreat center that lies at the base of a
canyon and whose main access road
is literally 'through the river.'

There's this writer's retreat, you see.
And I thought it might be a fun thing to do.
It also terrified me to think about being there,
and that little frisson of fear coupled with
excitement has often been the nudging of
the Holy Spirit in my life.
If it scares me to death, it's probably something
I ought to be doing!

So, we're going.
My husband is quite content to explore
on his own while I am in workshops.
Both of us are looking forward to seeing a place
completely new to us,
and I am looking forward to learning
more about writing well - 
using fewer words and more heart,
showing rather than telling.
At the request of my workshop leader,
I am allowing my very feeble submission
to be ripped apart by the group.
Talk about terror.
But I am game and here is why:
I don't really have a clue what I'm doing out here,
writing a couple of times a week on this blog.
I love words,
I love communicating with others,
I have been writing nothing but sermons and prayers
and notes of encouragement for the last 15 years.
Now I need to know how to write 
for completely different reasons,
and with a broader set of tools in my box.
So, I told him, 'have at it.'
And I meant it.
I think.
Big gulp.
Away we go.
 Today was Alamo day here in San Antonio.
It's a very small building.
It was a very hot day.
Enough said.
 But today was also the day to ride the riverboat 
  around the Riverwalk area where we are staying.
Now that was right up our alley.
On the water, in the heat,
enjoying the beauty of trees and brightly colored umbrellas.
 This was the river view of the restaurant at our hotel, where we have enjoyed breakfast every day.
 It was a lovely way to spend 40 minutes.
Then we came back and crashed, hot and sweaty and
surprisingly tired for not much activity.
But taking a dip in the rooftop pool helped a bit.
The water felt great - but it dried SO quickly.
Folks, it was 97 degrees at 8:00 p.m. last night.
Now that is hot.
We hear, however, that it has been raining buckets 
out near where we're headed,
so here's hoping for a bit of relief from these 100+ degree days.
It was too hot to eat lunch, so we opted for an early dinner and had that lovely patio all to ourselves.
We did, however, ask the waiter to leave the door to the inside open,
which allowed some air-conditioned breezes 
 to waft their way around our table.
The dinner was delish, the setting peaceful,
but the very best thing about this early evening
al fresco experience?
Seeing this gorgeous guy join the ducks
for a little drink of cool water!
Owls are not usually out and about at 5:30 -
but there he was, staring right at us.
My big lens was up in our room,
but we still got a full face,
looking inquisitively our way.
Somehow it seemed fitting.
This big bird was out of place here and he knew it.
So did the ducks!
But eventually, everyone made him feel welcome
and he hung around for a bit,
eventually heading up into the trees and drawing quite a crowd of people 
 whipping out their phones for a photo.
Maybe we'll eventually feel at home, too.
At any rate, we are outta here at 11:30 or so tomorrow morning.
Prayers much appreciated.