The Rivendell Retreat

 

“Rivendell was perfect - whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.  Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.”

 

Brothers,

I wanted to write a few words in follow up to our wonderful weekend together, partly to continue and prolong the experience, partly to ask for your impressions, thoughts and feelings regarding the significance of the weekend in your own lives.

First and foremost I wanted to point out - as I did in a few individual conversations - that no matter what changes in our hearts or our thoughts or our actions, no matter what encouragement or breakthrough, no matter what deep places of brokenness were spoken to by God directly or through the words of others —- the simple fact remains that when we return home to “our lives” EVERYTHING in “our lives” remains exactly the same as when we left it!! WE have changed; the world around us has not! Nor is this unchanged world going to present merely a passive resistance to our living out the changes we have experienced: by the very nature of our habits - personal, relational, societal - the world we left behind will labor ceaselessly to shape us back into the old mold, like a rubber band stretched into new adventures full of new vistas, only to find that when it is released it snaps back to its original shape with shocking speed.

We must know this truth about our world, and we must be prepared to experience it, and we MUST NOT begin to question the “good” that was accomplished during our retreat from that world, or come to doubt that anything meaningful happened after all simply because it doesn’t seem to be “sticking”. As we are reminded by Jesus in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” We are facing both an active Enemy as well as our habits and ruts and the relationships that hinder us from embracing our transformation. I (Derrick) will stand first in the line to admit that one week of life at home had me asking “Did I really just go and have my heart and soul refreshed last weekend?” The battle is real, as they say, and to be fair, ANY change that you are able to bring into the Old Life ought to be celebrated as a monumental victory!! 

Now, as David and I work through evaluating the importance of the Rivendell Retreat, I thought it would be helpful to offer some categories to help describe the way the weekend affected you personally. My hope is that you will all take a brief minute to message back, privately or publicly, with the feedback we are looking for. (Other feedback as to possible changes you’d suggest are welcome, but not specifically what I am asking this time.)

As we have been asking ourselves: what do we want to see happen - for ourselves and for our friends - on a weekend in the mountains? I have come up with a list of good things we might experience, and we hope you will let us know what your personal experience was:

  1. A supernatural, powerful experience of the presence and love of God. A truly “mountain top” experience.

  2. A course changing bit of clarity, encouragement, direction. An “epiphany” that helps to answer some tough questions or decisions or spiritual issues we’ve been struggling with.

  3. A spiritually ENCOURAGING time. Nothing specific or monumental, but a blessing that gives us a new burst of energy to press on in our walk with Jesus.

  4. An emotionally REFRESHING time. This might include many things: an awakening to beauty in nature and the delight of deep fellowship, laughter, and a sabbath-like respite from the harder, more painful parts of life on this planet. Or a re-awakening of our buried longings and desires - a refreshed passion for loving God and others in the very smallest moments of our lives, our hope to live a significant life, our taste for the goodness of God not as a theory but as an experience. You came away feeling more prepared to re-enter the world through your time away.

  5. None of the above. It was nice. It was fun. Enjoyed myself and would even do it again, but that’s about it.


Our original intention was to make a weekend like this happen twice a year, but at the same time we are trying to test the experience to know if it is something worth continuing to offer to others!

Ultimately there are also practical and financial considerations. The dream of our ministry “the warriors path” has always been a retreat/event based vision, and although there doesn’t appear to be a “business plan” we can come up with that offers us a living, we at least can’t be shelling out money we don’t have to provide events for others. As it stands the Rivendell weekend was about $200 a person, with the minimum necessity of 8 guys (we were one short this time). On the flip side of looking at the minimum, if we had any more than 10, we would run out of beds, which would necessitate using two chalets, and that, while not impossible, would clearly impact the intimacy shared by the entire Company of men, which makes us hesitant to even hope to grow in that direction. Any thoughts in this regard of sustainability would be most welcome, as neither David nor I have a “business” bone in our bodies.                                                                                     

Even as they left the valley the sky darkened in the West before them, and wind and rain came up to meet them.
”Merry is May-time!” said Bilbo, as the rain beat into his face. “But our back is to legends and we are coming home. I suppose this is the first taste of it.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit