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C.S. Lewis Retreat 2012 Reflection

November 16, 2012

Life would be perfect if everything were neat and predictable. However great that seems, it would also be somewhat boring. The formal were my thoughts leading up to the 2012 C.S. Lewis Retreat at Camp Allen in Texas that is hosted by the C.S. Lewis Foundation. By the end I was closer to appreciating that life can be less orderly and more unpredictable and still be okay.

The last two times I embarked on my journey to Texas had been anything but boring. Last year, due to unexpected traffic delays, I missed my flight but made it only slightly later than planned. The previous trip got off to a slow start due to the scheduled airplane needing some unscheduled repairs that became complicated as the hours ticked away.

Thus, I was hoping to have a “boring” (as in predictable) time. I was almost not disappointed. I boarded my plane without incident, but then take-off was delayed to confirmed the de-icing was successful. While understandably necessary, this meant my 50 minutes between connecting flights was reduced to about 25 minutes, and my departure gate was nearly at the other end of the airport from the gate I had landed!

I’m happy to say that was all of the unexpected adventures in regards to flying (leaving and returning). However, while at the actual C.S. Lewis Retreat I had many experiences that were different than predicted, but in a very good way. Part has to do with the state of my health at the time and the other is my general personality. Despite appearing to be outgoing to many, I would rather not be in a crowd (smaller groups I don’t mind) and “my batteries” are recharged more when in solitude. As for my health, I was just getting over a bout with the flu and some other issues. So, my first day at the retreat was my first good day in a week.

While I had been to three previous retreats, this one was special because it was my first time presenting. On the negative side this also meant I would miss some great presentations by others that were going on at the same time. This is one of the challenging things all participants face, except for when the main speaker shares there is usually several options and often you want to go to more than one. During the time I lead a C.S. Lewis 101 class about his essays, Dr. Diana Glyer (author of The Company They Keep) shared a writer’s session on “The Craft of Writing.”

Which leads me to note another special feature about this retreat; it’s really a “two-in-one” event. After adding a writer’s component in 2009, they modified it this year to mix naturally with the “regular” retreat. So, even if you weren’t interested in being a writer there were plenty of things to participate in. Most sessions were recorded to enable you to enjoy them again later, or get a chance to hear one you may have missed because of attending another. Having been ill before the retreat I actually took a break or two to relax while some events were happening, so I was especially happy of the recordings.

Something different this year were what was called “hosted groups,” which replaced what was previously just talks by one of the many guests. While each leader had some flexibility in their format, essentially the groups were devised to create more of an opportunity for those attending to interact or ask more questions during the hour meeting. The group I lead examined what a person could learn from how Lewis dealt with failure in his life.

The theme this year was “Choosing Heaven: Eternity in the Here & Now.” Lewis’s novel The Great Divorce was the book used as a spring broad to explore this theme. The featured speaker was Joseph Pearce, a professor from Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in NH. He gave three talks on the subject and also lead a hosted group. Additionally, he was a part of a panel discussion on Saturday that included Diana Glyer, Louis Markos, Andrew Lazo and Doug Jackson. I had the honor of being the moderator and will be sharing that special session in the near future on my All About Jack Podcast.

The arts are not ignore at this retreat, as each year a special musical guest is invited. This year Jeff and Claire Kepple of The Kepple Band played. However, the highlight of the retreat was a performance on Saturday evening by the Ad Deum Dance Company, lead by Randal Flinn.

I hope my summary, that doesn’t even begin to convey how exciting and interesting this retreat was, sparks your interest in coming to one of the future events hosted by the C.S. Lewis Foundation, which includes several events in 2013, the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 21, 2012 7:32 pm

    Lovely write up, William. It was a joy and an honour to have you with us this year! Thanks for being part of the fellowship!

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