I'm not really attending their Bible study this year, yet I was indirectly invited on retreat by one of them who moved to TN almost two years ago. She urged me to attend for the sake of seeing her. I haven't seen her since the last time she was up to NJ more than a year ago. But I always decline their invitation because the format doesn't sound like my style: I got the "skit" approach to spirituality out of my system a long time ago.
As it turned out, the weather affected my Tennessee friend's ability to reach the retreat in, well, they usually go to Valley Forge/King of Prussia,1 for the shopping. She didn't make it. And I had good reason to be at home this weekend as well.
But I am craving a retreat. It's probably been five years. A lady at the C&MA church emailed out their spring retreat brochure the week before last. It's in Cape May at the end of April. I've always wanted to go to Cape May and off-season is probably the best I can do. The schedule or order of the retreat days, however, didn't impress me. Friday night, after a travel day, alright, shouldn't be too involved. But after some announcements and worship and meeting with the weekend's speaker, there's 90 minutes of some icebreaker called "The Amazing Race" Game?! Would it be necessary to have ever seen the show on TV to participate? Then "Pool & Spa Time," which ought to go without saying unless it's said in an effort to entice me.
Next day, morning prayer at 7 for 45 minutes. OK, that's a good start but I bet we won't be kneeling. Then breakfast and another 30 minutes of worship (plus an offering). Then an hour from the guest speaker. Then an hour of "breakout time," which I would imagine is practical application of the speaker's lecture.2 Lunch and then "Missions Hour" which might be a time to pray for missions or hear pitches from missionaries? I don't know. This is a C&MA-affliated retreat. Then after this (but I'd duck out early and have even more time!), there's more than three hours allotted for recreation:
Shopping, Sightseeing, Trolley Tours, Kite Flying, Beach Walking, Bookstore, Indoor Pool & SpaPlus 75 minutes for dinner. Conceivably, four and a half hours on Saturday afternoon would be "personal time." Almost certainly I would be solo while cliques did "cool things" together. Then worship, the speaker, pool & spa 'til 11. Sunday morning has no church service planned, unless thirty minutes of praise music combined with the guest speaker's 75 minute talk qualifies as "church." Retreat Sunday is basically "the four last things": worship, breakfast, lecture, leave.
I told myself if I could find, through masstimes.org, a 4 o'clock vigil liturgy, I'd seriously consider the retreat. The cost ($400) is a little steep but I doubt I'd spend any more than that, say, shopping. Even the onsite bookstore (Berean Bible Bookstore of Lafayette) probably wouldn't be much of a temptation.
Our Lady Star of the Sea supposedly has a 4 o'clock service. But then I was reminded that we have tickets to hear "Classic Albums Live" perform The Beatles ("The White Album") at NJPAC in Newark that Saturday night, the last Saturday in April. I couldn't imagine missing that show. In other words, I couldn't imagine driving down to Cape May on Friday afternoon, only to return on Saturday afternoon. Next year is another year -- L 'Shana Haba'a
1 Actually, another retreatant just told me they had The Traber Center, a Christian conference center, to themselves for the weekend.
2 I'm afraid I'm talking myself into this retreat instead of convincing myself it's frivolous!