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...