I’ve been on all kinds of retreats – men’s retreats, couples retreats, youth retreats, pastor retreats, etc. – and all of them have real value. But there’s just something about going on retreat as a family that makes it different. For one, family retreats are messy. There are screaming kids at meal time (and lots of other times), you’ve got to figure out how to bunk whole families together when there’s only a Men’s Cabin and a Women’s Cabin, and it can feel a bit daunting to have 13 year olds and grandmas in the same small group. And yet the beauty outweighs the chaos for me. Having a group of tweens, locked shoulder-to-shoulder, swaying to the music while teens are raising their hands in praise and a couple of adults are crying, all in the same worship service – that’s a rare sight. Letting the young people see healthy marriages modeled out in front of them, and seeing moms and dads picking up parenting skills from each other, and everyone just enjoying the enthusiasm and wonder of the 4 year olds – what gifts!
This weekend I found myself thinking often about how messy it must have been around Jesus twenty centuries ago. People were bringing him babies to bless, and all kinds of folks were gathered around, including the sick and broken and possessed. No doubt, it was a bit like a family retreat.