Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Things: A Colorado Adventure, Part II

Well, it took whole weeks, but I've finally unpacked my suitcase from my trip to Colorado and shoved it in my storage closet, where it will keep the spiders company for one week. On Monday I will pull it out again and stuff it full of clothes for a trip home. It just occurred to me that, if I were in my right mind, I would have kept it packed all month—to save a lot of effort and lugging. ;)

I guess the silver lining in this unfortunate lack of strategizing is that my little abode is clean and tidy, and I have peace of mind enough to sit down and finish chronicling my Colorado adventure.

And so I give you: Part II (click here for Part I)

1. After a short stay in Denver, I spent the better part of a week in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for a retreat sponsored by Soulation, an apologetics ministry founded by Dale and Jonalyn Fincher.

Jonalyn and Dale

2. It was a grand week spent surrounded by golden aspen and brilliant minds.

3. Dale and Jonalyn's vision is to help others grow more "appropriately human." They used the retreat to facilitate the exploration of several ways we can grow healthier souls, and asked three attendees to contribute presentations on topics related to spiritual growth and formation.

4. First, I got to present on the way that beauty and the imagination can shape our souls. I focused on the especially powerful nature of fairy tales in helping us to recover our wonder at the world and our delight in a magical Gospel.

5. Jonalyn reminded us of the importance of taking time to play, to let something completely absorb us so that the process—not the product—becomes the point.

And play we did.

Jonalyn also reminded us that good play becomes so engrossing and delightful that we want to do it again and again, the way God wants to pull the sun up over the horizon again and again.*

This is my fifth attempt at trying to look like I belong on the set of "Oklahoma!".

6. Robin, fellow attendee and new kindred spirit friend, helped guide us to a better understanding of the redemptive nature of difficult transitions. She explained that transitions demand the reconciliation of life events and personal values, and force us to update our beliefs about ourselves. She encouraged us to allow tough transitions to "change the story you tell about yourself to yourself."

It was a timely talk for all of us.

Robin preparing her presentation

7. Aubrie—another attendee, a bosom friend, and a grad student majoring in thanatology—gave a presentation on grieving well. She reminded us that grief is work; it is a death and resurrection experience in which we are stripped "of the props we rely on for our well-being." Grief helps us to recognize our true identity as naked souls beloved by God.

Dear friend, Aubrie

8. On Friday, Dale talked a bit about the way our thinking about work has evolved since the industrial revolution from something to be proud of, to a mere money-maker. Then his wife shared one of the questions he asks himself when he's engaging in menial tasks:

"If the world were to watch me do this task to learn something about my God, what would they learn?"

And so we worked as unto the Lord and took great pleasure in it.

Bob and Tanya getting ready to stack firewood

9. Toward the end of the week we talked about the importance of including a Sabbath rest in our weekly rhythm, and determined to live the Sabbath as if God could hold the world together without us. Then we engaged in the Jewish practice of welcoming the Sabbath, and we rested.
Some of the girls on our Sabbath walk

10. We closed our week with "Mole's End"—a time to share poems, songs, and our own writings. It was a joyful and meaningful time.

This is what I look like when I'm about to chop off a fish's head.
This is also what I look like when I'm explaining what slam poetry is.

11. I am so thankful for my new dear friends, and for the renewal and restoration I experienced in such a life-giving community. In the wake of the retreat I have felt refreshed and hopeful, settled and satisfied.

*Jonalyn was referencing an idea in G.K. Chesterton's book Orthodoxy.


  1. Sarah enjoyed hearing about this year's retreat. it's so fun to be a part of something that let's everyone put their fingerprints all over it.

  2. Oh you put that so nicely. And there were SO MANY creative fingerprints. :) Were you an attendee last year?

  3. Yeah, I was there last summer, and I had planned to return until they moved it to fall and I had a conflict. But next year! I would love to see the Aspens change color. Your pictures are great. I've spent 5 summers in Colorado but never a fall.

  4. I hope you are able to attend the next Gold Retreat. The colors were SPEC.TACULAR. I'm from the Pacific Northwest and am used to vibrant fall colors, but nothing compared to those turning aspen. When I first saw them I felt like I'd been looking at fake colors all my life. Made me long for heaven.

    How do you know Dale and Jonalyn?

  5. I first met them here in MO. Then we invited them to speak at a Christian Leadership Training Program that I help with in CO. When they came we really just connected. Lots of common passions and interests. Then I joined them at the retreat and the bond only deepened.

    how about you?

  6. How fun! Over the years I've had a few girlfriends who know Jonalyn tell me we were kindred spirits and should meet. I followed Soulation's blogs for years, and then, a few months ago, Jonalyn invited me to the Gold Retreat via an online blog discussion. Like you, I just connected with them. Same vision and values. I hope to return to Colorado again and again to see them!