Tres Dias…Spanish for three days. That’s how long I spent near Lake Lavon for a men’s retreat.
This event had a lot going against it for me.
About the worst thing you can do to an introvert is plunk him down amidst 150 guys he doesn’t know. Let’s see how long before he comes out of his shell this time. Gulp!
Another thing this country bumpkin didn’t appreciate is being next to a lake with no time to enjoy the nature of the setting. We hardly had enough time to use the restrooms let alone time of solitude.
And whose idea was it to use a liturgical theme for this event? This free spirit appreciates more spontaneous prayers and such. Why did we have to recite from page 14 of that little book again…and again?
Don’t even get me started about that silly chicken song they made us sing before we could eat a meal.
Does that drummer really have to break my eardrums on every other beat?
Why are so many men discourteous about others when it comes time to go to bed? Can’t those loud conversations wait until daylight…please?
The tradition of this retreat began a long time ago in Spain. That silly chicken song came about while a broken down bus was awaiting a repair returning from one of these retreats. There were originally 99 verses to it. We only had to sing three of them. I guess they were broken down a very long time.
When I remembered the church I’m a member of supports at least three sets of missionaries to Spain I realized this world has sure changed.
The main thing this retreat had going for it is it’s a Christian retreat. As long as they’re honoring God and trying to get us to focus on Him I can put up with some discomfort.
Symbolism was huge here. I appreciated that, too. We don’t use enough of that in this country in my opinion.
One of the first things they did was offer us a white handkerchief to use as a surrender flag if we declared our surrender to God for control of our life. I had mine conspicuously hanging out of my pocket for the entire event.
At one point they gave us a small piece of thin paper and told us to write down the name of someone we needed to forgive or something we needed to forgive someone for. I wrote my ex-wife’s name down.
That evening they gave us time to write down on other slips any sins we wanted to confess and/or something that we desired to give up.
When we finished they had us fold the papers and nail them to a cross, literally. By the time we were done that cross was covered in nails and bits of paper…until they set it on fire.
In a matter of a couple of seconds the things we wrote down were burnt up. We were told we can now let those things go from our lives.
Saturday evening was extremely special. They treated us to a fabulous meal. Then, as someone prayed they snuck a few dozen women in around us. They began singing when we opened our eyes.
My sponsor, Marcia, was one of the first women I saw…before my eyes got too wet to see anybody. I was immediately missing Barb all over again. Not because Barb could sing, but because this was something I wish I could have shared with her.
The other time I cried was when they brought us into the chapel after a talk on prayer. They had some of the cha’s (Christ’s Hands in Action) praying for the speaker there. They explained that they do this with each of the speakers. Then they showed us the papers on the wall that listed the names of folks from all over who signed up to pray for us during this retreat.
They hadn’t given my 100 Prayers of a Writer book out yet. So I couldn’t let anyone know why that spoke to me so profoundly.
Other than my book being given out to everyone there I didn’t know what to expect at this retreat.
The first surprise was when I discovered I was a candidate. Candidate for what I didn’t know. I thought the election was over.
I learned that this was the first step to being able to lead this retreat in the future. Marcia’s son was the rector for this particular retreat. It takes serving at several retreats over many years to get there. I would have been extremely elderly by the time I got there.
I may go back next week on Saturday evening to sing to the women who will be there to repay the favor that was bestowed on me. Other than that I’ll wait on God’s leading about whether to go back to help with other such retreats.
I mentioned cha’s earlier. That’s the first round of entry into this “club.” Many of them actually carried our trays to the tables for our meals. Some of them spent most of their time there praying for us. A few were assigned to kitchen duty.
While I appreciate the ideology behind this it just isn’t quite my cup of tea, I guess.
At my first meal I sat across from a guy who has been divorced slightly longer than me. He lives in Frisco. I got his number so we can connect in the future. I guess God had a reason for me to come out of my shell quickly.
Marcia hoped I could get to know her grandson while we were there. We were both assigned to the same discussion table for the event.
Another guy at the table gave me his number and invited me to call him whenever I need to talk. I told him there’s a good chance I’ll take him up on his offer.
While I missed four days of potential work and a Sunday of worshiping at my home church I’d say the time was well spent for me.
I’ll be keeping my spiritual eyes open to anyone who I feel will be a good fit for this type of retreat.
At least six guys committed their lives to Christ and a couple dozen others re-committed their’s so it’s working to build the kingdom.
De Colores, mi amigos.
Keep smiling. Wade