Mt. Mitchell at Midnight

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I just got back from our Columbia District Clergy Retreat on top of Mt. Mitchell in Western North Carolina. It is the tallest peak east of the Rockies, 6,684 feet. It was 30 degrees cooler and the weather was absolutely perfect. I have been there so many times when we had lots of wet weather, or the wind was 50 mph. These past three days were perfect.

The sky was so clear that 4 of us hiked up to the summit in the dark. The Milky Way was hovering over us, and the Big Dipper seemed so close that you could reach out and touch it. The photo above is the four of us standing on top of the observatory at about midnight. It was awesome! One thing that hit me is that darkness helps you see what would normally be invisible. There are dark times in our lives: uncertainty, anxiety about health, finances, ministry, etc. God light shines best when we allow our eyes to adjust to the darkness and see the unseen yet real presence of God.

The whole retreat was helpful. New friends were made. We shared together our thoughts on Peter Steinke’s book on being a courageous leader without reactivity in the face of anxiety. We ate Black Beans and Rice one night, Chicken Bog with Smoked Sausage; anyway it was GREAT. We did have a bear visit us last night but no injuries and no damage to our tents, just a little excitement.

Anyway, I’ve been taking groups of preachers up to the top of Mitch for 5 years now. Having a quiet place to go above the cell phone towers and the fray of the tyranny of the urgent is important. We ain’t Superman and even he needed a Fortress of Solitude. This was ours for a few blissful days.

With Labor Day approaching and knowing that so many people are feeling stuck in jobs just for the benefits and not a calling, I certainly hope that those who feel like this are able to find a place where there can be responsive reflection and not anxious reactivity. Peace, Peace, Peace – In the dark, God’s light still shines.

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