It's sometimes arduous to explain the reasoning behind "giving up" a weekend to help out on a retreat, especially if there's a lot of preparation the week beforehand. While there's meetings to attend, shopping to be done, with lots of planning and phone calls, it's easy for an outsider to see it as time given up. The reality is that it's infinite time given back. It's added layers to my life that I could never have imagined as a big, bright-eyed 18 year-old idealist. I'm now the 29 year-old version of that and these retreats never cease to surprise me, and provide me with hope and Love that I forgot was around. It's one thing to have faith, and perhaps to go church once a week because of it, and it's certainly another thing to hang out in a church rectory at midnight on a Friday, drinking homemade beer or eating ice cream with people whom you probably wouldn't have been friends with in high school, didn't share the same major with in University, didn't meet at work, didn't meet during your travels or vacation time.
And what happens to me on these said retreats, exactly?
I sing (and I can't sing).
I dance (mostly because I love dancing).
And everything I thought that didn't matter in my life all of a sudden seems to matter and I am changed, somehow.
If I must narcissistically define my life of the past five years, filled with travel, new friends and randomness, and hopping into a new church any time the opportunity arose, I'd say that I've been stuck in Joni Mitchell's "Blue" period. But when I'm on retreat, or in the presence of God in any way for that matter, I'm at peace, fulfilled, and loved. During those moments, I'm not so blue. So that's my little miracle. I only wish the same kind of miracles for you.