Retreat to Peace

19 Jan

Retreat to Peace

Monday, October 1, 2012

By: Zac Harmon-McLaughlin


Last weekend our congregation retreated to the mountains. Ok… that’s not what it sounds like. I meant to say, we had a congregational retreat in the mountains! But, you know, in a lot of ways we really did retreat to the mountains. We couldn’t wait to get there. Our congregation has been on the move lately and consequently we have been doing a lot of things and making a lot of decisions. Well anytime you are doing a lot of things and making a lot of decisions, there is going to be some sort of subtle tension. This is a clear sign that you are living in community. Guess what….. living in community is hard because not every person is going to be happy all the time. And not every person is going to get exactly what she or he wants. I know this may sound harsh, but actually it is really beautiful.


Leading up to our congregational retreat we were in the valley of that beautiful tension of doing amazing things, but also understanding that making decisions is difficult because not everyone is going to be completely satisfied.


This retreat could not have come at a better time. We arrived to the mountains and found ourselves welcomed by the crisp mountain air, the rustling of leaves, and the wonderful aromatic smell of pine and oak trees. (Something that is not often smelled in the heart of the city in Orange County, CA)  The mountains are a sacred place. Something divine happened there. It was as if the Holy Spirit took the burdens and constraints of daily life and put them on hold so that we could honestly and authentically revel in the workings of a community of Christ!


Now this is no ordinary congregational retreat. This congregational retreat has no schedule. It has no guest ministry prepared to teach classes or workshops. It has no set KP duty. It has no outline on how the weekend will go. There are no rules or timed out events. It is truly a retreat. We have a communal hike for those that want at some point on Saturday. We have a campfire on Saturday night and we start whenever we want. And we have a closing worship. That’s it. The meals are made by community groups that are put together and everyone simply puts in their part to make the weekend a success!



Back to our congregational dynamics going into this weekend. The weekend was full of peace! We experienced God in our midst. We saw God as children ran around with giant smiles exploring the wilderness. We heard God in the deep conversations about our lives and the things that were consuming them. We felt God as we huddled around a campfire pit and sang songs that cultivated a spirit of connection and unity between us. God was dancing with us, cooking with us, hiking with us, and sleeping in tents with us.


The weekend was an event dedicated to retreat and that is exactly what happened, at least for me. I found myself not stuck in the idea of a role as a full time minister, rather, I found myself living in the midst of God in a community that is striving to become a beacon of peace! We did retreat. We retreated to Peace. We retreated and dwelled in our spiritual lives communally. We experienced each other’s vulnerabilities and strengths. Slowly but surely, we are becoming a Community of Christ.

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