GG Retreat

In early February, my Grace Gathering (GG) group organized a weekend retreat. Jeff’s parent’s generously opened up their cottage in Collingwood to us over a weekend. We were fortunate because there was A LOT of snow! It was probably the most snow that I’ve seen in quite a long time.

We drove up on Friday evening in a few different cars. I joined the biggest group in Sarah’s minivan. We were tight, but it was a joyful ride. We talked the whole way and played a game of humming or whistling and guessing the song. Sarah was a trooper because the roads were slick! We even had to get out of the van so that she could drive up the driveway which was on an incline. The cottage had a wonderful atmosphere with a lovely main living room that had a gas fireplace to one side. Victoria introduced some of us to one of her favourite games called “Betrayal at House On The Hill”. It is an interesting game where players are different characters who explore a haunted house and discover things as they go. Then at a certain point in the game (called The Haunt), one of the players betrays the others and that player and the other players together are pitted on missions against each other. I don’t really care for the evil elements in the game (and characters turning against each other), but it had interesting strategy and story development. Ironically the events of the game caused Victoria to be the Betrayer. Amazingly the rest of us managed to get what we needed and were able to beat her. I wasn’t much help because I had fallen into the basement early on and was stuck there for most of the game! By the time we were done the game it was midnight and so we all turned in.

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I got up early the next morning to try and call Othy, but unfortunately I couldn’t get access to data. I was kind of glad that I had gotten up early though because I got to see a beautiful, snowy, dawn landscape out the window that had been too dark to see the night before. An hour or so later we shared a delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs, pancakes, and fresh fruit. Yum! After breakfast we had a study looking at the second last chapter of the book we had been studying in GG throughout the fall called “Relationships: A Mess Worth Making”. We made the decision to spend the afternoon cross-country skiing at a place called “Scenic Caves”. I had not been cross country skiing in two years. I picked it up again quickly and enjoyed the still, winter landscape and the good workout! We did an easy loop first, and then decided to take an intermediate trail to a lookout point. This took some effort because there was a steady climb. The view over Georgian Bay was well worth it! The way down was also a challenge because it is more difficult to turn and keep control going downhill with cross country skis. By that point we were hungry and so went back to the chalet for a lunch of homemade tuna veggie wraps that we had brought along. We decided to go out one more time after lunch and this time split up into groups of snowshoers, expert skiers, and intermediate skiers. I joined the intermediate group and we managed a 5km loop! By the end we were fatigued! We drove back to the cottage and had hamburgers and salads for dinner. While Susan and Jess prepared dinner, a the rest of us ladies did a little yoga session to try and stretch out. Season and Sarah lead it and sounded like very convincing yoga instructors! After dinner we played some guitar and I joined a group playing several rounds of Code Names. I turned in quite early because I was so exhausted from a very full and fun day!

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I got up early again the next morning because I was responsible for lunch and wanted to prepare it early in case we decided to take it as a packed lunch. I made a greek salad with eggs and spinach. At the same time Sarah prepared a delicious breakfast of muesli, nuts, fruit and yogurt. It was all so good and we all exclaimed how well we had eaten over the weekend. We had our second book study after breakfast and then decided to spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon enjoying the out-of-doors nearby the cottage. Jess and Susan decided to cross country ski again, the boys went tobogganing on the road, and the rest of the ladies went for a walk to a nearby lake. I wore a pair of snow shoes because I didn’t have great winter boots. On the road they weren’t necessary, but once we found the trail we had to tromp tromp our way through the fresh snow! It was beautiful and so much fun to walk and chat with these ladies. Once we got to the lake we stayed there a little while and then headed back. On the road near the cottage we ran into the guys who were still sledding. They had built a crazy jump at a turn in the road that would send them flying into the adjacent ditch. Even though the fresh powder softens the fall, I don’t think I would have the guts to ever try that! It was fun to watch though! We went in together, sat down to one final lunch around the table, and then headed our separate ways. I was so thankful for this retreat to enjoy nature, get to know the people in my small group better, and experience stillness and time to reflect on God and relationships.

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