My family attended the Holy Cross annual retreat from Saturday to Sunday this year.  It was the first time any of us four had attended the retreat or traveled out to Silver Wattle.  As soon as we arrived we felt welcomed, both by the other parishioners and by the tranquility of the setting.  

The bright sunshine and blue skies overhead kept the children out of doors playing into the evening, blithely unconcerned as the air got colder and the hour darker.

That they were able to play freely over the terrain without us parents having to wander or wonder after them – what are they up to?  Are they safe? – is probably the closest my kids have come to having a childhood like mine – one of clambering over rocks and climbing up trees without a parent in sight.  I felt grateful for the setting and the people around me providing that sense of security.

I myself got to explore the surrounds – child-free! – with a walk Sunday morning up to the cross on the nearby hill and another brief stroll down to the meditative labyrinth. During both walks, seeing the vast expanse of the Australian bush and the Lake George basin I reflected a bit on God’s timeless and loving presence on this majestic planet.

White cross at the top of a hillside overlooking Lake George plains

On Saturday evening we had a talent show, where all the extroverts and showmen and women had a shot at entertaining the rest of us.  We were an obliging lot, happy to laugh along with every skit and party trick, and to sing along with every song and dance.  There were some skeptics lurking among us, though, determined to dismantle the magic behind Geoff and Jasper’s mind-reading feat – fortunately they were unsuccessful, and the mystery lives on for another year!

During the weekend Tim led several sessions where we talked about the different facets of our faith community in light of the First Corinthians passage about the church – like the body – being made of different but equally vital parts. Broadly, we discussed our church as a place of praise and worship, as a place for fellowship and outreach, and as a place to strengthen our faith through discipleship.  We brainstormed as a group on ways to expand and/or integrate these various activities.

Most striking to me from these talks was the notion that Holy Cross in essence holds two services each weekend: one on a Saturday when volunteers set up Tuckerbox and open the church for the local community to access affordable food and a place to relax and recharge; and the other on a Sunday when the usual parishioners come to celebrate the Eucharist and worship together. Ideally, we would like these two groups to interact and get to know one another better…and the first opportunity for that will be grand opening of our new Tuckerbox building, on 19 October, a Saturday.  I am looking forward to attending.

I can’t leave off describing the weekend without mentioning the food.  Each meal was – to put it as simply as my kids would – YUMMO!  We had pasta options, salad options, and a delicious trio of soups, among other choices. And the berries galore after dinner!  Vegetarian and gluten-free diets were accommodated.  I can imagine that  A LOT of work and love went into planning these meals, preparing them at home and on site, and cleaning up afterward.  A big thank you to Kirsty and her team!

And a big thanks as well to Christine for organising our weekend and to Tim for leading us in prayer, study, and worship.

Large group gathered outside Silver Wattle Centre for group photograph