September 1, 2011

Vacation with a Difference

Here was my job this week.Vacation with a Difference

On behalf of the diocese, I led Vacation With a Difference, five days of relaxation at our diocesan retreat center, the St. Andrew’s House Conference Center. A dozen people came to the most beautiful place on earth and hung out.

People pay $90 a night for an all-inclusive meal and excursion program. We went for a two-hour boat ride on what is an actual fiord, the beautiful Hood Canal. We hiked mountain trails through old growth forest. We ate oysters right off the beach. We sang old folk songs by a fire each night.

We played Bananagrams.

We said the daily office in many forms, including one evening simply sitting in the sunset and at precisely 7:53 p.m. saying one simple prayer.

We were well fed, spoiled even (I did my share of the spoiling.) We indulged our appetites, our dreams, even our yearnings.

They come for a few days of vacation. My job is to make a difference in that vacation. I try to do this by building community through prayer and song and story. Great food helps a great deal. So does a little wine.

There is no set program, no agenda, no purpose. We are simply here together to hang out. Church has gotten so busy that we rarely have time to relax with friends at our own parish, much less from across the diocese. That is what we are trying to offer, a space for enjoying each other’s company by just hanging out.

People who came made new friends and saw old friends from around the diocese. The Conference Center met its cost for a week that would have gone unused and we helped build community across parish lines.

When was the last time you hung out just for the fun of it with people from your diocese? It is one way to spend a vacation. And I hope it is making a difference in how those in our diocese relate to one another.