retreat in the mountains

Howdy, chickadees.  I’m back!  I had the very good fortune last week to stay in lovely Montreat for a conference called the Church in Purple, looking at how we can move beyond a politics of red and blue to finding our common ground, using purple seasons (of Lent and Advent) as a guide.  It was a very helpful conference, and gave me great hope for the church.  I’d like to share my week with you, but first a disclaimer: you will not enjoy this post if you do not appreciate several pictures of 1) mountains 2) fall foliage 3) my dog or 4) coffee.  Now that that’s out of the way…come to the mountains with me, y’all.

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Here’s that lovely place, which some refer to as “Presbyterian Mecca.”  I’m a Mo Ranch gal, so that will always be my spiritual home, but this place is pretty charming.

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My wee hobbit hole for the week, courtesy of my friend Beverly.  She was so kind to let me stay here, just a short walk from the conference center.

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The porch.  Glory, glory, halleluia.

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Here’s #2 I warned you about.

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(And here we have #1.  I might have thought, “I wish to see mountains, Galfalf!” when I saw this.  There was no sign of Smaug, thankfully.)

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“On Mountain Time” is the name of Beverly’s cabin.  Naturally, she has wine glasses to match.  Naturally, I made good use of them.

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Hayden made good use of this quilt.

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Not too shabby, huh?

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For all I know, I wandered through the middle of the road, because I spent most of my time looking up at the beautiful trees.

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(Except when I was looking down at the leaves crunching beneath my feet.)

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He moves pretty fast for an old fella.  (Check out that leash action!)

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Each night, we gathered for worship and had communion, which was my favorite part of the whole week.   Note the barefoot fella…we preacher types are eccentric (you don’t need me to tell you that!).  It was indeed holy ground.

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I’m not sure if it’s been scientifically proven, but there is something about a Wednesday at a weeklong church conference.  By then, you’ve shed the preoccupations you arrived with and aren’t yet taking them up in anticipation of leaving, so you reach a raw place of honesty with God and yourself.  Or at least I did.  We were invited to write prayers down in worship and then burned them in a refining fire (the light at the back of this picture).  We walked out with candles and watched as our prayers took light and drifted up in smoke and ash.  It was powerful.

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Then it was back to my wee cabin to curl up with the pooch and read.

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I have a habit of picking up a new coffee mug in interesting places I go (which feeds my habit of drinking coffee copiously).  This fair-trade teal mug is pretty spectacular.

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I also have a habit of doodling whilst taking notes.  We heard from people across a theological and political spectrum and how humor was a powerful way to bring them together.  I saw this same tool used in Belfast, where those delightful folk have used sarcasm as a great tool of healing.  We also talked about the importance of bridging difference in worship style and approach.

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It was good to be in the Dripolator again.  It provided a great sermonating spot Thursday afternoon (as do most coffee shops!).

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Black Mountain (just outside Montreat) is such a beautiful place.

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I did not necessarily intent to get a watch, but this beautiful wooden one made with sustainable African and Indian wood just spoke to me.  It was, naturally, entirely too big, but the clock repair shop next door helped with that…

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I do believe this place could make an appearance on Hoarders, but the man working there was a delightful Baptist bloke, and we chatted about my great-uncle’s amazing cuckoo clocks and a bit about Jesus, too.  People really are extraordinarily fascinating.

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My favorite place is probably the local used bookstore, where I found yet another (with yet another different cover!) copy of The Little Minister.  I love collecting different versions of this book.  I also found something perfect for a dear friend Gina in Sanford and a dear friend Catherine in Belfast.

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(Montreat likes to show off a little.)

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Closing worship.  It’s such a gift to just participate in worship, without worrying about remembering your sermon or the timing of things.  I loved that space.

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I also loved this back porch space, and spent a very lazy amount of time Friday morning (the conference ended Thursday night) drinking coffee here and writing my food column for next week.

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Hayden seemed to enjoy it, too.

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I did a bit more running around Black Mountain, including the very autumnal activities of drinking local  hot apple cider and eating a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese icing from the local cupcakery.  It was a perfect day.

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And now, we’re home again, had a wonderful weekend at church, including a very fun concert (pictures from that coming soon).

Thanks for coming to the mountains, y’all.  Isn’t it a delightful piece of the world?

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2 thoughts on “retreat in the mountains

  1. It seams to me that according to the rules of the Royal English, proper spelling for “y’all” is “ya’ll” isn’t it?
    Whitney, sometimes I think that you have a tween: one person cannot possess that many talents! The pictures are magnificent! Didn’t you tell that you made them just with your smartphone? I can imagine what will happen when you have a professional camera. You know, back in St. Petersburg, I always felt a great sorrow for my self in October. “Why, thought I, is my birthday in such a miserable time? Low, heavy gray sky, a lousy rain that falls day after day, constantly wet feet and permanently running nose. Add to it temperature of 40 to 45 degrees and enjoy!” I’ve completely changed my mind when I got to NC. October is the best and most beautiful time of the year! And your pictures just confirmed it. Perfectly! Thank you!

  2. Thank you, Andrey! I love taking pictures of places I go. And my phone has a pretty decent camera (and seems to always be with me). October is beautiful. Glad you enjoyed the pictures.

    Now about that y’all (you know a Texan has an opinion): I think the conjunction occurs where the two words come together: you and all would be y’all. But I have heard that y’all/ya’ll is from an Old English saying, too, so perhaps we’ve been doing it wrong!

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