Friday, June 30, 2006

Enforced Secret Joy #4 - Getting Away From It All

It’s always cheesy when your hear your church leader plugging the weekend retreat that you should sign up for by saying something along the lines of how you really need to get out of L.A. And it’s even worse when it turns out to be true.

Our 11:00 church retreat was held at a place called El Capitan Canyon, which was north of Santa Barbara, and a quite lovely place. The cabins were more like hotel rooms than actual places where you had it to rough it with a sleeping bag and hike to the bathrooms. (they apparently have that option as well, but 11:00 church wisely went with the cabin choice for the lot of us.)

I didn’t stay in the loft, but my cabinmate, the lovely Darla did. She didn’t arrive until late at night, so the grafitti wasn’t discovered until the morning. Of course I had to take a picture of it. Of course I did. Did you not get the memo that I distinctly requested a Christian cabin? Now I’m gonna have all sorts of sinful thoughts! ha ha ha. I’ve often heard that Christian groups that go on retreats or trips to Disneyworld are in fact, the worst behaved, the rowdiest, and have the most sex than any other groups that go on group outings. And there is zero evidence that the ones that left their grammatically incorrect scribblings were of the Christian persuasion. But I think it’s funny to think about.

I was often up in the morning way before the rest of my cabinmates were, so I’d go off hiking around with the camera and the Ipod going. Shame on you! You should be communing with nature! Turn off that Ipod and listen to the tweeting birds right now! God’s trying to talk to you through the buzzing insects amongst the hills and you’d rather listen to the Memento soundtrack! Boo! You’re not a Christian! Double boo!

So I stopped and took off the Ipod and attempted to listen. To be on the lookout for God. Hark? Do I hear something? The majestic sweepings of an Almighty Deity walking around?

Here’s the thing about trying to Look For God. When it’s this forced, when it’s this deliberate, God doesn’t wanna play ball. At least, not with me. It’s kinda like that one X-Files episode, where the bad guy was so super fast, you couldn’t see him in front of you, only out of the corner of your eye. What WAS that episode? I know I didn’t dream it up by myself. I’m gonna have to ask Ex-Roomie Cackle, he knows everything X-Files related.

Anyhow, that’s what it feels like, like God’s hiding in my peripheral vision. I can’t see Him in front of me, but He may be peeking out from the side. And when I turn my head, He’s gone again. And you’d think if the whole purpose of this trip was to commune with Him, that He wouldn’t be this hard to find.

So here we go, we haven’t played this game in awhile. Where’s God In The Picture?

Picture Number One – The Grassy Area On Top Of The Hill.

Now is God…
1. The grass?
2. The fountain?
3. The view?
4. The mist hanging on the nearby hill?
5. The grassy part of the nearby hill, and my sin is the brown part of the hill, and if I will only let the righteousness fall on me like rain, my brown parts will be green like God again?


Picture Number Two – Walking Through The Forest On The Way To The Beach.

Now is God…
1. The path?
2. The shady parts?
3. The sunny parts?
4. The bush?
5. The tree with the branch that looks like an arm pointing the way to, um, um, the BUSH!?


Picture Number Three – El Capitan Beach

Now is God…
1. The carefree child skipping in the water?
2. The mighty mountain rising in the background?
3. The people in the water struggling against the tide of SIN to make it to land?
4. The crashing tides, endless and never changing?
5. The dead person on the left hand side? (sorry, they’re sleeping.)


Last Picture – The Train Tracks By The Trail.

Surely, God must be…
1. The SUNBEAM! Duh.
2. The iron supports of the bridge, which is the word of God, holding up my life to the world?
3. The camera lens?
4. the world in front of the camera?
5. in my head, taking the pictures?


See, this is what happens when I’m forced to turn the Ipod off. I make crap like this up.

Thank you God, for getting away from it all. Thank you for El Capitan Canyon, for the cabin that had towels and bedding and rude graffiti because it made me laugh. Thank you for nature, for the hills, the trails, the mist and the beach. Thank you for helping me to get over myself and to go to the retreat to see all of this. Thank you for being there even when I can’t see you, and play silly games like Name The Noun In The Picture And That’s God! to amuse myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.


Midlife Virgin said...

Such great pictures! I'm glad to see your search for God is leading you into fun, interesting and creative places. I like to think that even God - or maybe especially God - has a sense of humor in things and your grafitti is evidence of that!

Peter said...

I stayed at El Capitan Canyon a couple of New Year's ago. I thought it was fantastic!

J said...

I actually had to leave a "God" retreat early once, a long time ago, because I was very, very close to sneaking off behind one of the cabins and showing this hot young woman how to see God in a whole new way.

I did the right thing. But, man, did I HATE doing the right thing!