Can one weekend change your life? Maybe. Maybe not. What one weekend can do, though, is remind you of the intimacy of a one-on-one conversation or what it means to find rest in the peace that is God's creation.
This past weekend I found myself waking up to the sounds of crashing waves on a nearly spotless beach, one that weeks early had probably been littered with debris from Hurricane Florence. It now lay silent as the first light of a Sunday morning sunrise began to peak out from behind the clouds.
The only word I could think of to encompass this moment is serene. The night before, in the very spot just below where my Eno hung from the support beams of the gazebo, a group of college students stood basking in the light glow of the porch lights and the starry night sky as we sang worship songs at midnight.
In my opinion, there isn't a much more picturesque moment than that right there. Moments like these are what this past weekend offered me. Moments of total relaxation and no concerns about a university 200 miles away.
This past weekend, as I set out with a group of 70(ish) other college students from my church in Chapel Hill, I put my phone down and reminded myself of what it meant to live in the moment and to forget about the stresses of a rigorous course load and the countless other responsibilities I'd left behind. Weekends like this are few and far between for any college student and I intended to make the absolute most of the time I had.
Through my willingness to let go of my life back in Chapel Hill I was able to take countless long walks on the beach with friends that I am both extremely close with and those that I am still getting to know more. I was also able to relish in the brisk, September night air as I laid out under the stars by myself and was reminded of the beauty of the sounds of nature.
While I could go on and on about the beauty and simplicity of unplugging, I won't. Not because I don't believe that the practice isn't something that we should try to implement in our day to day lives because I strongly believe that it is. I won't go on about it because while a weekend trip to Ocean Isle, North Carolina reminded me of the necessity of moments of rest and rejuvenation it also reminded me of the implausible nature of having days like these all the time.
We live in a culture that worships the chaotic nature of being stretched thin and biting off more than we can chew. Thus, we are forced to be overworked and stressed constantly. Not to mention that our ever-evolving technology-based society inhibits us from ever fully being able to "unplug" for more than a couple days at a time.
That also isn't the point of this article. The point is that we need to find a balance between these two juxtaposing worlds. While it would be nice to live in a world where we are constantly relaxed and have time to enjoy hour-long conversations with those we care about, that just isn't plausible. What is plausible though are weekends that may not change your life, but change your mindset.
According to Google, the definition of a retreat is as follows: a period of seclusion for the purposes of prayer and meditation. The term retreat can have a lot of different connotations depending on who you're asking, but the overarching theme remains the same. Retreats are periods of time when we can find ourselves finding solace in those around us and being in the moment. That's what this past weekend was for me. It was a time to take a step back from the hectic lifestyle I daily fall victim to and relish in the friendships of a church community that loves me well.
My solace was found, this time, in a little island town on the coast of North Carolina. Go out and find your own. It's out there, you just have to be willing to unplug from reality for a bit to actually find it.