The last full day of my annual writing retreat can be one of the most uncertain. Sometimes one or two of us leave early. Someone is usually doing laundry. Several people pack. At least a couple try to push through to reach a goal or two before the last night, since anyone remaining leaves by midmorning the following day. Every year is different for me. I’ve left the final full day. I’ve pushed through goals the final full day. And I’ve taken the day to relax the final full day. This year, I was savoring every concentrated writing moment I could grab.
I heard a strange voice outside—mainly strange because it was a male voice. Since our retreat is for a group of women, and we’re together for a week, it’s odd to hear a man’s voice, especially outside the house. Someone posted in our group chat that we had visitors. I glanced outside and saw a couple men and one woman. I recognized her as the homeowner.
We’ve been staying in Beth’s houses in Branson for years. The first retreat was at someone’s timeshare. Then we stayed at a house Beth no longer owns for a couple years. We tried another owner a couple years later. We quickly decided we prefer Beth. We’ve now stayed in many of her homes. They are always clean and welcoming. She’s responsive if there is an issue. Several of the women have stayed in the houses with their families on other trips. We’ve recommended the houses to friends. We’re repeat guests.
Beth doesn’t live in the area, but she’s often in Branson, and she stopped by with a couple people to put up the new basketball hoop. She wouldn’t have bothered us, but we invited her in, and it was great to catch up for a few minutes. She feels like a part of the retreat to us, an honorary member of our group, because her houses become our homes for a week each year. Yes, we are paying to stay, but it feels as if she is investing in our process.
The final full day of the retreat was a little more full this year because of the surprise visit, and that’s okay. It was a refreshing reminder of the people behind the scenes who are encouraging our journey in many ways.