and if you can remember… keep smiling, keep shining, knowing you can always count on me, for sure…

this past weekend was san francisco monthly meeting’s annual retreat. last year, before i’d been going to meeting for a year, i responded to an announcement about the need for a co-registrar for the retreat, and i got to learn about the job of registrar while assisting the registrar. this year, i was the registrar– on my own in a lot of ways. though, as always feeling a tremendous amount of support.

the week leading up to the retreat was pretty stressful. i got some sad news about job prospects for the fall, i had to write a plan for all six monday workshops i’ll be leading with my summer job, and i had to assign a bunch of people to rooms and beds– and count them all over and over and over again, while fielding questions and worrying that i would put too much on the building manager for our meeting who was acting as a sort of collaborative assistant manager (which meant sometimes dealing with problems before i’d ever heard of them) and worrying that i’d given away too much scholarship money and worrying that i’d screwed up in some weird way that i wouldn’t even be able to guess ahead of time… this on top of my current jobs and the young adult friends group with its dwindling attendance…

that sounds terrible. it wasn’t. there were terrible moments. i think if i added up all of the times i felt terrible and really stressed out since the registration forms went out in the april newsletter, it would add up to about an hour. a lot of those involved dealing with other people’s stressed out phone calls and responding to questions i really didn’t know the answer to.

but deep down, i knew that short of my accidentally setting the place ablaze a few hours after everyone arrived, i was going to do fine. because, really, it’s that sort of job– where everyone is going to an amazing place with amazing people and amazing food, and everybody’s going to be pretty happy to be there.

and it was true. i got a lot of thanks and praise for my good work, and i hope i accepted it graciously, but honestly, it was a very easy job, and while i’m glad that people are glad that it happened, so much of my work was based on what was already a well-oiled machine. the cook was the same, the place was the same, the time was the same as its always been. i just had to make sure it all still happened. and that was work, but it was basically easy.

what i really want to write about though is the retreat. the way that we all get to relax and be with each other in a really authentic way. we get to be goofy and sing songs and be silent and coo at children and have deep talks and walk together and eat delicious food and smile and remember things about each other and accept each other and meet new people and see the redwoods and smell the dirt on the children and sit in front of the fire and applaud each others’ talents and laugh a lot and blow bubbles and tell each other we love each other and see each other in our pajamas and help each other and listen to each other and hug and forgive and clean together and share books and ask questions and talk about the bible and contemplate god and so many other things.

there’s a part of me that is suspicious of my love of this retreat. retreats seem so classed and inessential. we could be Doing Other Things with that money and that time. but sometimes, i think we just need time to Be with the people we love and the people we want to love, so that we can learn to do it better and remember what it feels like when it’s just easy.

i worked to make sure we could still go on the retreat, that it would still be relaxing, that everyone who wanted to come could, that the food would be delicious and enough, that people would get the rooms that they wanted… but it wasn’t me that made those other things happen. it was all of us together and it was god. that’s what friends are for.

(that song is my right now very favorite thing in the whole wide world. i sang it so many times on the retreat. it’s so schmaltzy but it is also just how i felt… “and i never thought i’d feel this way, but as far as i’m concerned i’m glad i got the chance to say that i do believe i love you.” and to me the weekend was about being open enough to admit my love of ridiculous songs like that, and to share the goofy joy i feel from them.)

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Published in: on 27 May, 2008 at 10:13 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m so glad you had a great time on the retreat. As the super-registrar you surely deserved it!

  2. I had a good time. I felt relaxed. My children smelled like dirt. I hiked and ate and worshipped and read. And I got to get to know a bunch of people better. Thanks for helping it happen.

  3. I’ve been on the committee that plans our meeting’s retreats for a few years, and I think you captured the work of it pretty accurately. I also resonate with your comment about “being with the ones we love so we can learn to do it better.” So important, and yet not always easy!

    Sounds like a wonderful time.

  4. allison, i’m thinking of changing the bookstore’s name to super duper bookstore a go go of fun.

    robin, thank you for coming! with your family! and participating fully!

    mia, thank you for your comment. it’s so funny to be in charge of something like that. i’m glad it resonated with you. means i’m doing something right. *laughs*


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