Last week I attended a retreat at Sacramento Methodist Assembly. The camp is located north of Cloudcroft, NM on top of a mountain. It is truly in the middle of nowhere. At night the stars seem to be so close that you could reach up into the air and grab a handful. I have yet to go up the “Holy Hill” and not be mesmerized by the beauty of the land.
On the last night of the retreat, several of my friends and I did something that I had been longing to do since the first time I attended the camp ten years ago. At about 10 p.m., we hiked away from the lights and sounds of the camp to a place called Serenity Peak. We took with us luminarias hoping to capture some incredible pictures while we were in our sacred space. Our journey was not very far, but long enough to transport us into the darkness of the mountain.
As we journeyed on, I started to fear the possibilities of encountering animals, losing my way, or not being able to see my path clearly. My anxiety started kicking in, and I thought of possibly turning back. Camp was secure. I knew where I was going and could go back to my room, safe and secure. This was too much of an adventure for me.
Gradually, my worries subsided as we arrived at Serenity Peak. The stars, while brilliant at camp, held a beauty that I could never adequately describe. While standing in the darkness and gazing upon the majesty of God’s beauty, I could not help but think of the writing of the Psalmist’s declaration, “When I look up at your skies, at what your fingers made – the moon and the stars that you set firmly in place – what are human beings that you think about them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them?” (Ps. 8:3-4 CEB).
I realized that there is beauty in the night. Something that is set apart from the day, which has its own majesty. God’s wonder is both for the day and the night, neither being better, just different. I remember that I must take the time to be aware of the sacredness of the evening, and not only rely on all that is in the light of day. The holiness of the night allows us to remember to stop and look and enjoy a new way of thinking of things, a new way of being in our world.
And as for the retreat, I took an extra few moments to etch into my mind the incredible picture that will help me through times during the day when life gets very busy. I can reflect on my journey through the night and all of the lessons that I learned, and be grateful. Praise be to God for the greater light to rule the day, but also the lesser light to rule the night. Each one, offering a different response to those we love and to our God.
Today, I am very grateful for getting to spend time with my clergy friends, who are amazing people who strive to make a difference in this world. I thank God for laughter, for intentional retreat, and for opportunities to share sacred spaces. We have all been called to embrace our world, filled with the light that guides us. May we remember our stars, our moments of a holy embrace, and as we give thanks may we continue to be made whole.