Sunday, July 08, 2007
I spent last week at Ghost Ranch. It is one of Earth's most beautiful places, and the Presbyterians, its current stewards, share it with all who come. I've been to many an off-season ministers' event there, but the accommodations used to be so rough and the service so iffy that we quit going. Reservations lost, no heat, that sort of thing. But a couple of years ago, traveling with a friend who was serving on a Ghost Ranch Committee, we stopped there and I attended her meeting (pretty sad case, aren't I? Attending somebody elses' church meetings in my spare time?) It turned out to be a soul searching sort of meeting and my take away message was, "I like these people. I like the way they think about their faith and their lives and their responsibility to the world. I ought to try coming here on vacation." It took a couple of years, and this year was the year.
I watched the scenery. I learned to weave and turned out a couple of pretty-good- for-a-first- try pillow tops. I found it so absorbing that I hardly thought about my church at all, and that makes for a very successful ministerial vacation. Their resident theologian/spiritual director, Philip Newell offered morning services which were just lovely and open to all. Even the communion service. "These are the gifts of the Earth," he commented about the bread and the wine. "They don't belong to this tradition or any other tradition. All are welcome." It's been a long time since I took communion anywhere except at the UU Christian Fellowship's GA communion service. It felt very good. The only disappointment: it was surprisingly hard to have a good conversation. There were plenty of possibilities for "Where do you come from and is this your first time at Ghost Ranch" kind of conversations, but harder to get deeper. It seemed that most people had come with friends or had been coming for many years. This is something they need to work on.
On the other hand, they've been doing some hard work on their accommodations and have some really lovely new residences, and their phone, computer, and reservations systems seem to be working now, too. Church retreat, anybody?