My church friend and I have decided not to stay for closing worship; we want to be on the road by 5:00 a.m. so that we're not too late getting home. Closing worship doesn't start until 9:30, and since we have a 12 hour car trip, that would put us home very late.
It's been a very good retreat, and as always, I'm both sad to leave it behind, but happy and grateful to have been a part. And with each year, there's amazement on my part that I've been coming here for so many years, since 2003.
Back when I first came, I was full-time faculty, and my department chair said that I could miss class to go to this retreat. I used personal days the first time, and when I described it to her when I returned, she decided that she could use it as professional development. So, while there was no travel money, I didn't have to use leave.
Since that first retreat, I've moved into administration, and then I changed jobs, moving to an even higher position in administration. It becomes harder to get away, and yet, it's worth it to me.
During this retreat, I'm also aware of my body more than usual. My arthritic feet have not been happy, especially this year, when it's been cold and damp. I'm not to the point of driving from place to place, but I have an understanding now, in a way I didn't before, of why someone might make that choice. I am heavier this year than I have been in some years, not as heavy as some years. As I look around, though, I realize that I am not the only one carrying some extra pounds this year.
I am also thinking of all the people I've met through this retreat who are no longer here. Some of them just had to miss a year. Some have died. Some just came for a season in their lives, and have moved on--perhaps further away, perhaps to another stage of life (like the stage with 2 small children).
As I walk around camp, I'm surrounded by reminders of those people, as well as reminders of all the times I've been here through the years. I first started coming here as a camper in the summer during my elementary school years. My family has been coming here once a year for a holiday reunion since 1992. And then there's this retreat. Being here feels like coming home.
But now I must get ready to go back to my other home, the one in South Florida where I pay a mortgage and have a job, the one where my spouse waits patiently. It's time to head further on down the road.