I was supposed to be on my annual writing retreat. With COVID-19, that didn’t happen. As a retreat group, we made the decision to cancel. We did our best to rationalize why and how we should keep our plans, but we knew cancelling was the wisest option.
Because we had already set aside time, we all tried to set modified goals and make some progress during our week. Even though we typically only interact as a group at the retreat during evening mealtime, we knew we’d miss being together. So, one woman organized a Zoom call. She planned a project for us and made sure everyone had the materials we’d need.
It was so much fun. It wasn’t like anything we’d ever done together at a retreat. Some of us were out of our comfort zones. We joked about some of the characteristics that come out in ourselves and each other as we write—and apparently also as we craft.
We all had the same color palette, but everyone’s finished product looked a little different. Our organizer had thoughtfully chosen a design that had special significance to us as a group. The frog theme stuck many years ago as we talked about goal-setting and productivity.
As we worked on our projects, we talked about our goals and productivity. We talked about COVID-19 and how it impacted our lives, our families, work, and mindset. We shared updates on various things we’d been sharing over time. We chatted about our next retreat (thankfully, we were able to schedule one for later this year). We took a few photos—serious and silly, just like we do at the retreat. We revisited several retreat memories.
We enjoyed friendship.
Not all of us can commit to the retreat every year. Some have been friends longer than others. We each have a little different focus or approach to each retreat. We don’t get to see each other often outside of retreat week, but we stay connected. And we have walked through some tough seasons together. These women rally.
A retreat is “an act of moving back or withdrawing.” A rally is “a mass meeting of people showing support for a cause.” The two things seem in opposition, but as I reflected on our time together, I saw the connection between the two. Our writing group does both together; we invite one other to do both—to move forward knowing we will support one another, that we can ask each other for feedback and prayer, and to step back to reflect, be accountable, and focus on whatever God determines for us.
A retreat rally—that’s what the evening felt like.
Our dynamics and relationships didn’t develop overnight. Our goals have shifted over time. Our lives have definitely gone through a menagerie of changes. But we have intentionally connected and built trust with each other.
Your retreat rally will look different, but consider the people in your life. If you don’t think of a group, consider what you’d want it to look like someday. Then plant seeds. Reach out. Cultivate what’s in place. Commit to connections. And find moments to be grateful.