The Weekend Retreat

We met at First Presbyterian in Missoula at five o’clock Friday evening to carpool to Glacier Presbytery Camp for the annual men’s retreat. The weather in Missoula has been cold and the snow has been fairly steady, which remained the case during the journey north on Friday along the west side of Flathead Lake. I had never been to a prior retreat at the facility, nor had I ever visited the actual site itself, only having numerous times driven by on recreational journeys to the many play sites in the area.  The camp is just south of Lakeside, and includes a 20,000 square foot lodge on numerous acres along the pristine northwest end of Flathead Lake, nestled not too far below Glacier National Park. The facility during the summer hosts both junior and senior high school level camps and also is a popular site for weddings and seminars.

Fortunately for a friend and I, given the icy roads on the reservation, the drive up was uneventful. The scenic Mission Range was cloud covered through the Ninepipes area, obscuring what I feel to be one of the better views in the country. There were thirty seven men attending the event. I was amazed and encouraged by the number of attendees. Friday evening we had a nice meal prepared by the excellent staff at the facility. Following the meal, the first session focused on service, “Men of Service.”. We read a passage from John 13 along with an intriguing piece on the Columbian Saint, Pedro Claver.

Saturday morning following a hot breakfast, we attended a session on “Men of Nature.” This entailed a reading from Genesis 1 and Romans 8. Also accompanying this session was an essay by Basil the Great. Being broken up into the same small groups for each session made the discussions more candid and livelier as folks got to know one another over the weekend. Following this session, the men broke up for recreational activities which included ice fishing on Flathead Lake (Lake Mary Ronan was also an option), skiing with discounted group tickets at Blacktail, snowshoeing, or simply resting and relaxing at the facility itself. I enjoyed some skiing with a dozen or so of the other participants. Blacktail is a nice little hill with some excellent tree skiing. It snowed throughout the day, providing excellent powder conditions. The group who went fishing caught a large Macinaw lake trout and many perch as well. Saturday evening the session focused on “Men of Perseverance,” with readings from Genesis 32 and Hebrews 12 along with an essay from Gregory of Nyssa. . Following the session, it was nice to spend time around the fireplace getting to know one another while discussing the day’s activities.

Sunday morning we wrapped up with a final session on “Men of Love,” with readings from Mark 12 and Solomon’s Song of Songs 1, again accompanied by an essay, this one by Bernard of Clairvaux. The weekend wrapped up early and we were on the road prior to noon, following a group picture above the partially frozen lake. The retreat was well organized, educational and relaxing. I hope to partake again next year.

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