Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Here's the cabin I stayed in... for more photos form this past weekend click here
This past weekend was what I like to think of as the cornerstone of my year, from a recovery standpoint. I travel 3 hrs up to a great little YMCA camp in Michigan and hang out with 65 of my closest friends for the weekend. Not only is it an awesome time to catch up with the group of men who got me sober 10 and a half yrs ago, but it's a great time to reflect, sleep, take stock, get "re-connected" to HP, eat too much and laugh a TON. This year, I finally decided to take my tent up and camp out. Well, the rainy forecast made it a prudent choice to sleep in one of the cabins instead. Usually, I sleep in one of the main cabins that has heat and room for 20 or so guys. Well, this year, in the spirit of roughing it, I slept in one of the smaller heatless 4 man adirondack style cabins for a change of pace.... very kool. With two sleeping bags, the lack of a heat source was irrelevant. Our theme this year was "Living in the Sunlight of the Spirit." Rather than having a retreat master this year, the committee decided to put the thing on themselves, and save the $$ they normally pay a retreat master so they could sponsor more guys who couldnt afford to come. (great idea) They had various panels make presentations, and hold discussions of various AA/recovery topics. It got alot more people involved, and was really quite good. We also had several large roundatable discussions amongst ourselves at the conclusion of the panels. The panel/discussion that got my attention most was one that a close friend of mine chaired, that he closed by playing a really great song by Tim McGraw that talks about someone finding out he has 1 year left to live, and what he does with it... very moving... Well, he then gave us an exercise to do that was really pretty emotional and thought provoking. I will scan it and get it in my blog at a future date... It basically went along with the song he played. On saturday, we got this bunch of T-Storms that rolled thru. It was really wonderful cuz they hit as I was in the cabin napping. So, I got to lay in my bunk for about 3 hrs and fade in and out listening to the rain, the thunder, the wind in the trees, an occasional soft conversation between friends walking near my cabin, and probably best of all, smelling the forest as it rained... mmmmm We had a great lead Sat nite, that was kool... I stayed up way too late laughing around the campfire,listening to my friends singing/playing gutiars, etc. That was real nice but it caused me to sleep in and miss our Traditional "Chapel in the Pines" meeting. We always have a spiritual, incredibly moving meeting out in that little open air chapel in the pine trees each year, usually bringing several of the new guys to tears. This year I missed it... But, the grand finale so to speak, is the meeting we hold each year at the end. We set the chairs up in a big circle, and one by one, we go round and share a little bit about what we got from the weekend, where we're at, and so on. Well, needless to say, the new guys there for the first time, especially the ones who are new to recovery have a hard time getting thru their share without breaking down... And, of course, one of my sponsees whom I attend with each yr, had to go and get all emotional during his share, which of course really got me and several others of us in tears... And then I had a hard time getting thru what I had to say about where I was at with everything... It was, as usual, a VERY spiritual, moving meeting, lasting about 2 and a half hrs. Then we eat lunch and head home... This is my 9th time up there, I had to miss once when Ian was born, and again for a birthday, excellent reason to miss... I always leave there a different person than when I went up. This year was different from all the others in that I slept a lot more than I normally do. I didn't go up there with a plan, or any expectations. I left there feeling good about nearly every aspect of my life. I really feel as at peace about my entire life as I have ever been. The only thing I really came away from there feeling like I need to improve upon is my relationship with my wife. So, that's what I have decided to focus my recovery efforts on. Just like Dr. Paul O in "Dr., Alcoholic, Addict" I probably should've got my marriage right well before now, but this is just how things are working out. It's not that my marriage must change, my attitude about it and my acceptance has to change... I spent a fair amount of time this year not talking or sharing where I was at because I really wanted to get outta myself, and listen to others. It felt very good to not talk about me all weekend long! Anyhow, I just wanted to share that, some people were interested in the weekend... I cannot say enough good things about going on retreat. I have found that there is a whole other, deeper, more satisfying level of recovery that takes place on a retreat. But, that's just me... Our 8th Annual Winter Retreat for Men of AA is coming up in January (19-21) at a great retreat center not far from where I live. I have been involved in that one since it began, either chairing or being on the committee every year. It's something I love to do as service work.
If ya wanna take your program to another level, check out a retreat!