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Creativity/Spirituality Retreat

June 18, 2004

Wednesday morning, we joined together at 3:30 am, prepared to participate in an adventure we knew little about. By 5:00 am we were at the foot of great hill/small mountain which would begin to climb. The purpose: see the sunrise over all of LA, from the hills in Pasadena to the beach in Santa Monica, to see “the strong man, running its course with joy” (Ps 19:1-6). Well, truth be told, it was completely cloudy all day long. So we made the hike (2 miles) up the mountain where we watched the fog rise instead and talked about our magnificent Creator and our own capacity to create as those who have been formed in his image. The hike was rough for me, and rather unexpected. But I made it to the top, one of the last two but just glad to have persevered. This day would be about me pushing through. We traveled back down the mountain three times as fast as we had climbed it, piled back in our cars and headed for the beach. It is a privilege to be so near both the mountains and the ocean, to see just a glimpse of the breadth of God’s creation. We came to Portuguese Bin, a rocky beach and a quite unknown area. The rocks were large and smooth, a result of being refined over time in the salt water of the Pacific. They were an array of blue, from light to deep with any number of patterns to them. Our task here was to, on our own, pick out what we thought was the most beautiful rock and what we thought was the ugliest rock. The beautiful rock was to represent all the good that resided in us. The things we loved about ourselves. The gifts, talents and other generosities of our hearts. This rock was to be thrown back to the ocean, where it would continue its refinement. The ugly rock represented all that is holding us back from moving forward with God. Our fear, doubts. Our past. Whatever is consuming our thoughts and hearts. This rock was to be thrown into the ocean as well, into the hands of God, to be consumed by his all powerful love. Off of our shoulders and onto his. For me, this exercise was key for what would happen next, for without naming my rocks and tossing them to the sea I would not have done what challege came next. We moved from the more open part of the beach to the bottom of a small cliff that overlooked the ocean. Here we bounded over larger and more jagged rocks to a cove that the water had carved into the side of the cliff. Here, the blue and green waves pounded against the rocks in a most dramatic fashion. It is hard to describe with words what the scene was like, but I will do my best. In between two plateaus of rocks, the ocean rolled into the cove. Next thing we knew, our leader was in the water between the two plateaus. Grabbing a hold of some seaweed, he lifted himself up the not so smooth rocks on the other side (mind you it is cloudy and cool-in the upper 60s maybe). He stood on the other side, the water dividing us from him and challenged us to come across. He made it clear that is was not necessary that we do this, but the offer was there to see the beautiful view from the other side. Immediately I wanted to do it. Anyone who knows me well enough knows that this desire was out of character. I don’t even like the beach that much. I rarely go into the ocean. I’m not really into being wet. But something in me said, “Adria, you need to do this. Kick a side of your box down today. Break out. Face your fears and live.” We were instructed to bring a swimsuit for this such occasion. But me being me, I didn’t bring one. How often would I really go to the beach? (I’ve been twice in a week and a half) So, I moved to LA without a swimsuit. People have done crazier things. I knew I had a change of clothes, but I didn’t have a towel. For the first time, it didn’t matter. Before my mind new what my heart was doing, I was out of my Birkenstocks and into the cold Pacific on a cold, cloudy day with all of my clothes on, grabbing onto seaweed and David’s (our leader) hand and pulling myself up to the other side. Our adventure was just beginning. We traveled along the second plateau and came to a cove similar to the first. What else was there to do? We jumped in again. Some of the guys bodies took quite a beating on the rocks as they helped the girls climb up to the other side. Let’s be honest, this wasn’t the safest thing to be doing, and people bled. I had won. We had won a small battle, and we all felt a little like barbarians. Erwin would have been proud (his forthcoming book is called “The Barbarian Way”) Going into the water twice meant we had to do it two more times in order to get back to the rest of our party. So we did, enjoying our new found camaraderie and the courage to “jump first, fear later” (Michael Yaconelli). The day ended with a feast that David’s wife had prepared at their home in Whittier, and I don’t believe I have ever been so grateful for food, or the hammock I was able to rest my bones in. We were beat, but our hearts were light within us. After debriefing our day around the fire, we ended with desert; a most proper finish.

In my entire life, I don’t think I have ever been as sore as I am today. Leaps of faith, risks, these do not come without sacrifice. My body has paid the price for my hearts freedom.

“Safe!? Of course he isn’t safe! But he’s good.” -Mr. Beaver about Aslan (C.S. Lewis-The Lion, The Witch, and
The Wardrobe

“…and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten, Lucy could never make up her mind.”

-Lucy about Aslan (C.S. Lewis-The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

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