Serendipity!

I retreated this past weekend with 4 other women from our (St. Paul’s Lutheran) church to a lovely camp named Lutherlyn, a name as pretty as its picture.

 
September, in our neck of Pennsylvania, is just beginning to give up the green, but this picture of Lutherlyn from a previous autumn is what we have to look forward to. There are only hints of color now, but dramatic coloration like this is on the way — count on it!
 
Looking at pictures from the website, clearly this spot of God’s earth is beautiful all year ’round. I do hope I get to go back and see other seasons as well.
 
Camp Lutherlyn — fall, winter, spring. 
 
We packed up our pastor’s wife’s van with sleeping bags, suitcases, book bags, purses, snacks, and raingear — the forecast promised rain. I’m happy to say we all fit — us and our paraphernalia, everything it would take to keep 5 women comfortable and stylish in a campy sort of way for the whole weekend. 
 
While in line to register women greeted one another, chattering and laughing, renewing acquaintances with people from previous years, hugging long time friends. And suddenly I realized — as a first-timer, there would be no one here for me to re-connect with. It was momentarily disconcerting, but no reason to be sad. I love making new friends, and I came with 4 delightful gals who made me feel ever so welcome. Still, it gave me pause…because, like the theme song from Cheers says, “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…” At that moment I was engulfed in a homesick feeling. I wanted to know someone there — besides the women I came with. I wanted to greet someone with a hug. Someone whose name I knew. Someone who knew my name… and was glad I came.
 
Silly me. The homesickness passed as quickly as it came. We all got registered. With packets in hand, three of our group returned to the car to drive our luggage to the location of our cabin. Ida and I chose to stretch our legs with a walk to our assigned cabin. Ida — Aunt Idy to two of the gals in our group — is 83 years old and spry as a spring chicken. She and I hoofed it up the hill on gravel and dirt pathways. She, pointing out the dining hall over there and one of the meeting halls down there. Me, taking it all in and trying to keep up. Yes, this was going to be a wonderfully rejuvenating, fall getaway.
 
I paid little attention to the names of speakers for the weekend and hadn’t read the bios in our packet of information. Everything was new to me, the campgrounds, the meeting halls, the cabins, and the people. It was all new, and all good. And refreshing.
 
Right off I liked the Bible teacher’s presentation. There was something familiar about his style and mannerisms. He reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t for the life of me think who. The next morning, while he was speaking I glanced at the short bio page, Pastor Blair Morgan, (The Rev. Dr. Blair W. Morgan to be exact). 
 
Hmmm, I knew a guy named Blair, like 40 some years ago, when I was in Young Life.
 
He had already referenced his age — my age.
 
The bio said he was from Pittsburgh and attended Penn State University. Same as the Blair I knew.
 
And then he mentioned his years with a parachurch organization called Young Life.
 
How about that? I kind of, sort of, knew someone after all. When I introduced myself to him he asked if I was married to Tommy or Mike Henning. Tommy. Hardly anyone calls him that anymore, just family and friends close like family. I loved hearing Blair reminisce and use my husband’s old familiar boyhood name. We shared stories and asked each other about long lost friends…triggering memories now four decades old.
 
What a treat to be greeted so warmly, a delight to exchange hugs. Somebody knew my name… and was glad I came.  
 
No one, and certainly neither of us, has led a completely charmed life, but a blessed life to be sure. Count Your Blessings, don’t overlook any — see what God has done. All weekend long we were encouraged to count our blessings.
 
In retrospect I’ve been thinking, I never would have been at this W-ELCA Retreat (Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church) if some pretty difficult trials hadn’t come my way last year. Without those trials I’d have missed two blessings: a fabulous retreat and a serendipitous reunion. Like it says in the book of James, “Count it all joy my brothers and sisters, when trials come your way.” Yep, count it all joy! Trials today, blessings tomorrow. A foretaste and glimpse of glory to come. 
 
What a splendidly refreshing time it was with my W-ELCA friends, Kristine, Wylda, Nita, and Ida. You’re on my list of blessings girls!     
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