Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Retreat Conversation

We’ve been on several staff retreats since I started this job, and you won’t find much here about the details of those trips mostly because I’m still getting over it/them...... , the difference between the concept and the reality.

I don't know if I ever told the tale of the first trip where I swam, did I?

In my mind, a staff retreat is this: We go to a place not like church. A pewless, altarless, whiteboardless place that is snuggled into the quiet of a faraway calm setting. The aura is cool mint, fresh air and clear skies- they fill our vison... fill up our senses... like a something in the something... ( See John Denver) ah. ahhh. We unwind, rest. We reconnect and strengthen the bonds we braid ourselves into during busy weeks. We think and meditate and consider all that life has to offer. We opt for massages, or manicures, or yoga. Yes. Retreat. 24 hours pass, every stress has dived away from our stressed selves, we are renewed. That's in my mind.

In reality, we pry ourselves away from the mountain of important to-do's that keep multiplying on our desks. We manipulate our schedules, to find a date we can all agree on. We beg the sick people to get well, we plead with those in ICU to hang on 2 more days. We encourage moms -to- be that later is better- to be born in this world, then we pile into our church van, and we hold on for dear life while our leader, our chief, drives us into the sunset.

Suddenly, we arrive at a location that doesn't quite jibe with the one described above and we tumble out. We are shepharded into a meeting room and our retreat begins. We discuss our plans for the coming season, check on each other’s other lives ( outside the walls of the church), and we share and grow build and bond. We dine, and we maybe even rest somewhere in there. We create and determine, we consider and formulate the future. Then we come back to work refreshed and ready to dive into the plans we’ve made.

We go together. We stay together. We work together. We talk together and over eachother. We eat together. We sleep together. We wake together. We brush our teeth together. We whine together. We brainstorm together. We scrapple ideas together….. We unwind at the end of the night by playing games or watching a movie or going out to eat except I’m usually so tired from writing all this down and holding it in my head, that I just want to be a statue out on the yard with the other concrete God-like creatures that stand guard on the grounds of the place we have come to this time.

We use whatever energy we had stored up for the trip ten times over and we create work for ourselves that we didn’t have time to do at work because we are too busy working at work. (Amazingly enough nobody quits when we get back to work after all that.)

The entertainment factor is slim, but I like to collect tidbits when I can and so I present those on a platter for you below....

Here’s the language that runs around the room during our retreatfest... " You just", " I mean," " Here’s how it goes", "My thinking is," " I bet we can fix it", "What I’m saying though, is ", "Those were things in my head.", " So, then", " No, you just", " How will that effect", " I would feel safe", " Could", " So, ", "However", "The more we do that, though,", " On the other hand", " Sure, but", " I guess I’m a weenie", " But what if", "On the other side ", "Why can’t we just", " That’s not what I’m saying", " Huh?", " So, then when can we do that?" "What?" " I’m hungry", " Who said that",
"When did that happen", " But I just think" " Um, yeah", " When do we get that going?" "Who takes that?" " Isn’t it time for lunch" " Who ate the last red skittle?"

Somewhere a bell rings, sometimes I get to ring it, and our retreat time ends. We ride back to church/work and wonder for days later about what we talked about and decided on. Hey, what can you say?

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