Where This Meets That
This past Saturday, I took my son Aidan to his first church retreat, in the north Georgia mountains. But these next couple posts aren’t about his retreat; they’re about mine.
You see, five beautiful, Godsent kids nevertheless come with five kids-worth of activities, voices, and ubiquitous noises, and along with a career that, though a blessing itself, usually drifts beyond normal working hours, I’d reached the breaking point. Life had become a clutter of burdens and obligations.
Anyone who’s rafted white water has heard cautionary tales of rafters washed overboard only to be sucked into an underwater vortex that so disorients them that they no longer know which way is up. Well, that was where I found myself in recent weeks: lost in an overload of tasks, a life seemingly signed away, its passions growing stale and its gears locking up.
Is that slow, sad violin I hear telling me that you are officially feeling sorry for me? Good, because I just wanted you to know the kind of guy my family had been living with lately. I definitely needed a break.
Thank God for my wife, who gave me a path to channel my burnout productively. Knowing my need for a retreat of my own, she suggested that, after dropping Aidan off at his, I just stick around and breathe some cleansing mountain air of my own.
I seized the opportunity, first thinking I’d love to check into a quaint bed & breakfast somewhere and do some writing. Yeah, that’s what I needed: more hours punching away on my Macbook!
Instead, I booked one of these little “Squirrels Nest” campsites (pictured at right) at Unicoi State Park for $16. No big bill, no burdensome tent, no limiting walls, and no obligations to “get my money’s worth” out of it. It was perfect!
I packed some blankets (I don’t have a sleeping bag), a change of clothes, my fishing pole (which I wouldn’t need), some “fallback” food, and my camera, and we hit the road at 6:30 Saturday morning.
Life Teen Camp Covecrest is a beautiful Catholic youth retreat center in Tiger, Georgia. This would be Aidan’s home for the weekend. It was his first visit there, but I had been there before, and after dropping him off, I strolled around the property to capture some of its beauty in pictures.
Here are some shots of its lovely, century-old, country chapel.
Across the field from the chapel and central to the camp’s landscape is this beautiful crucifix.
A lovely monument to Blessed Mary adorns the entrance to the Stations of the Cross, a very special area of Covecrest.
The Stations of the Cross is one way many Catholics meditate on Jesus’s Passion. Most Catholic churches feature a version of the Stations, and Covecrest’s, with statues situated along a serenely wooded path, is particularly moving.
Much of my growing anxiety in recent weeks circled around the thought that my own cross in life was beginning to crush me, so taking a little time to photograph Covecrest’s Stations and reflect on Christ’s determination to carry his cross to victory was a wonderful way to start my personal retreat. Here are some of the best images I captured there.
My soul stilled as it hadn’t in a long while.
The weather was amazing, capped by a perfectly cloudless blue sky. With peace growing inside me, I moved from reflecting on the God-Man who turned water into wine into blood and set out to find another old bearded friend of mine who makes a little wine of his own, down the road.
Check back soon for My Mountain Retreat part 2 – Wine on Tiger Mountain!
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