For most of my life, the word retreat has been synomynous with the church. I can't tell you how many youth group retreats I went on in high school or women's retreats I've signed up for as an adult. Graham and I even did a couples' retreat once in Seattle and fought the whole way home. So, that didn't seem to have the intended effect. As my memory serves me, these weekends away were filled with girlfriends and gab with a few speakers and group activities built in. Maybe an hour in the . . .
In January, our family visited the Blue Ridge Tunnel in Nelson County, Virginia. The old railroad tunnel, built by Irish immigrants and enslaved Americans, became operational in 1858. The tunnel cuts into greenstone, a metamorphic rock, and is a mile long hike from one end to the other with no light except a very dim outline of the exit on the other side. About a half mile into our hike, with headlamps and flashlights used as guides, the periphery faded away into darkness and my vision . . .
Today, my little homeschool classroom loses a student. It's probably a good thing. She made it to a systems of equations unit in 8th grade math and this was the practice problem we looked at until our eyes crossed: Christopher is 20 years younger than Ishaan. Ishaan and Christopher first met two years ago. Fourteen years ago, Ishaan was 3 times as old as Christopher. How old is Ishaan now? Jesus come quick. If you can tell me the answer, I promise I'll take you out . . .
At the beginning of 2021, I signed up for a Contentment Challenge with a podcaster I follow and made it my own, inviting friends to join. It is a 90 day challenge to resist frivolous purchases and do the hard, good work of unearthing simple satisfaction with what you have. Though what people give up for the 90 days varies, for me it's looks like saying no to material purchases: clothing, home items, jewelry, books, beauty and cosmetics. It's also a hard pass on feel-good buys like coffee, . . .
A few weeks ago, I went to my annual skin check up. I had a funky mole discovered and removed (twice!) last year and it was time to get back to the dermatologist. As I sat in the waiting room, resisting the desire to be on my phone, I watched two women come out from the clinic. They were both so lovely, hair perfectly in place, dressed in monochromatic colors with jewelry to match and coats with fur hoods. They happened to be octogenarians. It was clear they had come to the appointment . . .