If you’ve been to a Left Hand Church retreat, you know it’s anything but ordinary. There is something about stepping away and into a beautiful space in which we can all be free. A space where we can appreciate crisp mountain air and beautiful music, listen to our inner voices, learn things that matter about each other, and be free to be exactly who God wonderfully made us to be.
The beauty of our shared spaces, whether a Saturday service, community dinner or church retreat, are how we live out the values we proclaim at Left Hand Church. We honor each other and embrace the ambiguity and uncertainty as we work together to get it right in our search for the greater truth. The wonder, open-hearted engagement and courageousness of our people keeps me in awe.
This past weekend’s Estes Park retreat was a place to be truly heard and understood. One minute we were laughing playfully with each other and the next we were crying tears of empathy and joy. I watched tear-filled eyes as stories were told of coming out, finding unexpected treasures, the love of stepchildren, the loss of a parent, the pain of looking back, and the joy of looking ahead. God’s beauty, creation and presence were all evident in these treasured moments of deep reflection and sharing.
The meals at this winter’s retreat were as abundant as the conversation, with enough food for an army. Baked goods, Peter Clark’s signature blueberry pancakes, made-to-order grilled cheese, baked potatoes, and soup for days. A carb load for the soul. No one went hungry.
For our church service on Saturday evening we crammed in a room, sitting cross-legged, like kids at a slumber party. It didn’t matter that we were on the floor or that Jen preached from a chair with a winter hat holding down her curly hair. It was perfectly imperfect. We were together, we were one and it was wonderful.
The retreat included times and places for the loud and rowdy as well as getaway spaces for introvert recharging. My favorite space was the impromptu music gathering on Saturday evening when the two groups converged. A dimly lit room full of talented musicians, guitars, a box drum, tiny shakers and big voices trying to harmonize. We went from hymns to Broadway show tunes to the Indigo Girls, and everything in between. As the night wore on, the numbers dwindled as folks slipped off to their cabins for bed. Soon the instruments grew silent and the intimate group that remained sang acapella. It was magical, full of peace, love and true connection. My heart and soul were full.
I want to thank Sarah Clark and Christy Estoll for joining me in planning this winter’s retreat. I love working with Christy and Sarah. There are no egos, just the joy of working shoulder to shoulder, hand to hand.
It doesn’t matter where we are, at Left Hand Church we love each other well. Though, I will say, it’s more fun to do it slumber party or campout style. If you have not yet experienced the joy of a Left Hand Retreat, I hope you will join us this coming July for our second annual summer camp-out. Same love and connection, different accommodations. We’ll let you know the date and location as soon as they’ve been secured. In the meantime, we’ll see you on Friday night at this week’s community dinner at the Jepsen home, and on Saturday evening at 5:00 at our worship space at 4th and Kimbark.