I was reminded of my first retreat experiences on Sunday. We had our annual church picnic which meant that the service was outside in a shaded area. It was casual with drumming (my new drum made its maiden voyage), singing in a round, and story-telling. I had a flashback to the worship services I participated in as a kid when, for four summers straight, I spent a week at Camp Mt. Luther church camp--by my choice. I am sure my parents were thrilled that I chose Lutheran church camp above all others. Their joy in my choice was misplaced. It was probably at church camp that I started to pull away from the Lutheranism I had inherited from many generations of ancestors (on both sides). I told my mom that I didn't want to be confirmed, because when I grew up, I was going to worship in the woods--where I find the connection to the divine to be more direct than from the remote and cool Scandinavian-inspired architecture of my childhood church. Mom said I could do whatever I wanted when I grew up, but I was going to be confirmed. And I was, and it didn't stick.
Church of the Woods. I still long for it, but I have at least found a church community that honors my spiritual path with earth-based and nature honoring traditions--even if we are housed in an English-style country church. It was lovely to take the service out of doors, which we will do yet again before June is out. Call it retreat. Call it sanctuary. Every time I take a walk in the woods or sit beside a lake or walk on a sandy beach, I am worshiping in the church of my choosing.