By Linda Clark
Each winter, the diaconal folk of Hamilton Conference gather for an overnight retreat, held at Crieff Hills Retreat Centre in the House of the Prophet. We have been doing this for several years now; I have records going back to 2009 in my computer, but I suspect it was even before that. Our main purpose is Sabbath time. In some years, we have done a bit of DUCC work, but overall, it is time to just be. As folks arrive sporadically on a Thursday morning, the coffee table begins to get piles of snacks for sharing, until there is no more room. Coffee and tea is made. During this gathering time, we spend time doing what we each want or need; some knit, others colour. We talk about our lives in general terms, and do a more formal check-in usually starting over or after lunch, for a couple hours. Then we take a break to go outside, or nap, or whatever. Of course throughout this time, we are munching on the wonderful snacks. Then we continue check-in over dinner.
We prepare our own meals, with the assistance of our in house chef, Kathy Toivanen, who does the menu preparation and most of the grocery shopping, not to mention the wonderful baking she brings … cookies, squares, loaves, scones … and on and on.
In the evening, we often play board games and enjoy the odd beverage or two, along with aforementioned snacks, before turning in for the night. Upon awakening, coffee is again made, and after breakfast, we are left to our own devices again… snowshoeing, hiking, x-country skiing, or reading, colouring, etc. We share in another lunch meal and by then it is time to clean up and pack up.
With the changes coming to the UCC, and the change in boundaries, we spent time talking about how to include new diaconal ministers that will be in our new Region and quickly learned that more thought and input from others is needed around how best to do this.
The importance and value of our gatherings was best expressed by Christina: “I’d be someone completely different without these beautiful women.” Amen to that.
Linda Clark is a diaconal minister in Hamilton, Ontario and a CCS graduate (1997).