Monday, December 31, 2012

Drive to Laity Lodge

We first heard about Laity Lodge through The High Calling, a daily bible reflection we follow online.
It is a well-written short bible study by Mark D. Roberts that has become a staple in our morning routine along with - we are equal parts challenged and comforted with this daily intake of spiritual food. Christian Blog Network ...Creates an online community by actively listening and educating people about work, life, and God. Our motto is “Every day conversations about work, life, and God.”
Again, to say we have been blessed by having this drop into the inbox everyday is an understatement.  We cannot recommend it highly enough.

So here we are, having made a dutiful sweep of the touristy downtown we tossed a coin and chose the less direct, two hour "scenic route" o'er hill and dale to the place of great escape.
Just as many Americans south of Buffalo think every Canadian lives in an igloo, we looked expectantly for the Dually pickup trucks with the stereotypical rack of long horns sprouting out of the front grill and of course, gun racks atop the cab driven by cowboys dwarfed by their own ten gallon hat.

 *sigh*  This was about as red-neck as it got.
Found a Starbucks here & descended upon it like a pair of desperado's --- snobs that we are.
But the vast Texas Hill Country it was for the next long while.
Long and Lonely stretches of highway between San Antonio and our destination
And then we passed it just like that, so obscure it was - the Howard Butt Foundation sign marking the gravel road down into the Canyon to the Frio River.  Turning around in a rest area, we climbed out of the car and edged our way over to the concrete lookout post for a breath-taking peek at the sight below.

In 1954, the H.E.Butt Foundation acquired 1900 acres north of Leakey, Texas, to fulfill a long-cherished dream of Howard E. Butt Sr., to provide a place where boys & girls, men & women could further their knowledge of God and his creation while enjoying the freedom of camp life that had so appealed to him during his youth.  With his wife Mary and subsequent generations of the Butt family, that vision is now manifest in five self-contained, state-of-the-art facilities that have welcomed more than 750,000 campers in an atmosphere conducive to healthy Christian character development. 
This is offered FREE for qualified church and community groups; with programs especially targeting children and youth groups who would not otherwise be able to afford such an experience.
This is the Frio River carving its way around the Canyon.
Isn't it amazing?  It really did take my breath away.
The Frio River is a Texas treasure.  Frio is the Spanish word for cold and cold it is. 
See that little red canoe/kayak below?  Much saner way to enjoy the river in November if you ask me.
The Foundation owns and maintains five separate Camps and retreat areas, 
Laity Lodge being one of them.
Our anticipation mounted even as the road took us on a slow but steady descent into the canyon and the place of our great escape.

And suddenly we were driving in the river feeling ever so much like naughty children on adventure.
In a word?  Exhilarating!  Our own bonafide 'red-neck' experience.
Ah yes, there's a sign at long last...we're not lost after all.
Laity Lodge.  The place of our great escape.  
"The spiritual life has long been compared to a journey.  As such, Laity Lodge is best understood in terms of the hospitality it offers to travelers who are engaged in a journey of following Christ.  More than a destination, the Lodge is like a 'hospitality house' along a pilgrim's route with the purpose of creating opportunities for refreshment, renewal and  discovering courage while on the way". 
I like this description found in the welcome package: 
Laity Lodge is a place for retreat, but always for the sake of advance.
Now that you've arrived here with us, you might be wondering what sort of retreat this is.
Come back tomorrow.  We will make discovery together...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Laity Lodge Texas

* Retreat *
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French retret (noun), retraiter (verb), from Latin retrahere ‘pull back’ (see retract )
  •    a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax their mountain retreat in New Hampshire.
  •    a period of seclusion for the purposes of prayer and meditation the bishop is away on his annual retreat before his ordination he went on retreat.
Beloved and I flew to San Antonio, Texas in November, far away from everything and everyone familiar for a retreat.  This was a spiritual exercise for us and one we were quite ready for.
The experience was rich and significant in a host of ways and is thus become a serious challenge to my blogging brain.
Six weeks! to assimilate my thoughts and come up with a plan of action (*ish) for the telling of it.
I've decided that you're going to hear and see about it bit by bit -- delivered in at least three separate instalments because it's simply too much for one post and because I want to share the riches of it in as authentic and thorough a way possible.

We were far into the hill country - 70 miles from the nearest store of any kind - unplugged and disconnected from any reliable cellular or internet service for four days.
It has been YEARS since either of us has gone 4 days straight unconnected.
That, all by itself was an experience worth journalling.
But first:
We spent a few days at an old hotel on the famous Riverwalk of SanAntonio -- a two and one half mile stretch of pedestrian walkway along the river that meanders below street level.  

An outdoor theatre on the Riverwalk with sod lined stone risers.
Fanfare to attract touristy attention and restaurant business.
It was okay.  What more can I say?  Jostled by tourists eager for a nibble and peek at each and every establishment of an endless smorgasbord of boutiques and eateries?  *sigh*
Of course, only a fool lands in San Antonio and neglects to visit one of its' more famous historical markers:  The Alamo  I'll let this site take you around for the details.  
At least the ancient door was intriguing  :)
Last chance in the next four days to connect with the homefront!
The Riverwalk is even more winsome with the evening lights along the footpath.  
We were just a few weeks too early to enjoy the full blown Christmas displays; 
apparently it is a sight to behold.  
Stay tuned.  We're buckling up for a drive into the vast unknown tomorrow.