Skip to main content

Women's Retreat 2015: The Experience

"Alice," you ask me, "how does an annual Presbyterian women's retreat work?"

Excellent.


You all drive to the retreat center, which doubles as a home for retired nuns, and sign up for your room (everyone gets their own room/bathroom). The retreat center has three floors, and if you don't want to be disturbed by the noise from people staying up late, you should get a room on the third floor. In my case, I sign up for one of the precious third room floors despite the fact I am well aware I will be one of the noisy staying-up-late people I am apparently trying to avoid.




My church partners with another church from a close suburb of Chicago, and has for 31 years. We see these women every February, and our two groups make up somewhere between 50 to 60 people. The average age is about 45, but there are people there from ages 29 to 88.


After checking in, dumping your stuff and putting sheets on your bed, you wander downstairs, saying hello to people and then wandering back upstairs because everyone else seems to have a purpose down there and you are aimless. There's a cushy rocking chair in your room with a view of Lake Michigan that you forgot to take a picture of because A) You are an idiot and B) Your phone is in airplane mode for the weekend and you forget about its use except as a clock.


The first night, there is soup, because ladies and soup, amirite? And there are so many KINDS of soup! And all the dipping bread you could want. Ah, it is a magical time. 


allll the ladies with crockpots, Ariana

Then we meet our retreat leader, have the first session, eat snacks and chat. Friday night's pretty low-key. 

The retired nuns serve breakfast from 8 to 8:30, so everyone pads down to the dining hall in their slippers and eats. I go overboard on Cheerios because I don't buy them at home. There's encouragement to mix it up a little, so you sit with some women from the other church. Then off! Off you go to the morning session, where you are either talked to for an hour, or broken up into small groups to get to know other ladies and share.

The rest of the day is lunch (same dining hall, same padding down to it), afternoon session, and then! There is always a craft: last year we made soul collages. A buffalo figured quite prominently in mine. This year you could decorate paper cutouts of people because our theme was body and mind wholeness. 

Craft time is also super-awesome-relaxing-fun time. A lot of people take naps. Some people walk down to the lake, because Lake Michigan is appx 20 feet from the retreat center. This year a big group walked to the lake, then at someone's insistence, everyone held hands and leaned back to look at the sky. Then we all started moving in a circle and singing Hava Nagila, and my amazing friend Rebecca said "...there are times when I realize we're doing exactly what people think we're doing on these retreats."

A smaller group of women walked further down to the lake and stood on what's normally a beach, but is currently covered by snow & ice. I ended up lecturing on Frances Willard, because WHY WOULDN'T I. 

I mean, I have my own name tag

There's another session in the evening, then there is Saturday night revelry. Saturday night is usually people's favorite because it's when everyone eats snacks, drinks wine, and sits around & chats. This year we had a dance party. PICTURE IF YOU WILL, 20 ladies moving in a circle to The Loco-Motion, and then an 85-year-old joining in and getting really into it. We ended on Dancing Queen. It was pretty much all you could hope for.

Sunday you pull yourself out of bed, go to breakfast again, then have morning session, followed by a worship service we plan ourselves. I'm in the music group every year because I'm on the planning committee. Then! we eat a meal that mainly consists of pita bread & hummus (so, what I eat all the time anyway) and then head out. 

Ah! I have neglected one of the mainstays: my Cheez-Its picture. This is probably the most useless tradition in my life, including the one where I dance to Back in Time every fall Daylight Savings Time, but the way this came about was six years ago, I was on the retreat and missing a VERY IMPORTANT EPISODE of Battlestar Galactica where Roslin & Adama kissed for the first time. So I called my friend Kory from a corner of the main room, clutching a box of Cheez-Its and making her tell me everything that happened in obnoxious detail. I was photographed with said box and then it...became a thing. Thanks, Battlestar.


So! Women's retreat 2015. If I could make you all go next year, I would. No internet, no TV, just a bunch of ladies talkin' about lady things. It is the swellest.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Build a Girl Introductory Post, which is full of wonderful things you probably want to read

Acclaimed (in England mostly) lady Caitlin Moran has a novel coming out. A NOVEL. Where before she has primarily stuck to essays. Curious as we obviously were about this, I and a group of bloggers are having a READALONG of said novel, probably rife with spoilers (maybe they don't really matter for this book, though, so you should totally still read my posts). This is all hosted/cared for/lovingly nursed to health by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) because she has a lovely fancy job at an actual bookshop ( Odyssey Books , where you can in fact pre-order this book and then feel delightful about yourself for helping an independent store). Emily and I have negotiated the wonders of Sri Lankan cuisine and wandered the Javits Center together. Would that I could drink with her more often than I have. I feel like we could get to this point, Emily INTRODUCTION-wise (I might've tipped back a little something this evening, thus the constant asides), I am Alice. I enjoy

Harry Potter 2013 Readalong Signup Post of Amazingness and Jollity

Okay, people. Here it is. Where you sign up to read the entire Harry Potter series (or to reminisce fondly), starting January 2013, assuming we all survive the Mayan apocalypse. I don't think I'm even going to get to Tina and Bette's reunion on The L Word until after Christmas, so here's hopin'. You guys know how this works. Sign up if you want to. If you're new to the blog, know that we are mostly not going to take this seriously. And when we do take it seriously, it's going to be all Monty Python quotes when we disagree on something like the other person's opinion on Draco Malfoy. So be prepared for your parents being likened to hamsters. If you want to write lengthy, heartfelt essays, that is SWELL. But this is maybe not the readalong for you. It's gonna be more posts with this sort of thing: We're starting Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone January 4th. Posts will be on Fridays. The first post will be some sort of hilar

Minithon: The Mini Readathon, January 11th, 2020

The minithon is upon us once more! Minithons are for the lazy. Minithons are for the uncommitted. Minithons are for us. The minithon lasts 6 hours (10 AM to 4 PM CST), therefore making it a mini readathon, as opposed to the lovely Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon and 24in48, both of which you should participate in, but both of which are a longer commitment than this, the Busy Watching Netflix person's readathon. By 'read for six hours' what's really meant in the minithon is "read a little bit and eat a lot of snacks and post pictures of your books and your snacks, but mostly your snacks." We like to keep it a mini theme here, which mainly means justifying your books and your snacks to fit that theme. Does your book have children in it? Mini people! Does it have a dog! Mini wolf! Does it have pencils? Mini versions of graphite mines! or however you get graphite, I don't really know. I just picture toiling miners. The point is, justify it or don't