Monday, November 10, 2008

Fly Fishing and Fellowship

I had the opportunity this past weekend to attend a Casting for Recovery "reunion" retreat. All of the women who have participated in the five retreats held in Arkansas were invited. There were about 40 women who attended this past weekend. We met at Lindsey's Resort in Heber Springs, AR for a weekend of fellowship and fishing. We were blessed with gorgeous fall weekend weather - cool, lots of sun, low water, and the peak weekend of leaves changing colors. I was a participant in the June 2008 retreat which you can read more about here. I shared a ride to that retreat with Charlene, from Fayetteville. We shared a ride once again and enjoyed the drive - catching up on what's happened in our lives since June. We were some of the first to arrive at the resort (or as some of us determined - it was more of a man's fish camp than what we termed a "resort"!) and were delighted to find that we had the only cabin (we shared the cabin with Judy and Ruth - two ladies from our June retreat) that was on the river!! We got unpacked as others began arriving and there were lots of hugs and laughter as we reunited with those we had met at our June retreat and met new friends who had attended retreats in earlier years. We walked around the resort a bit then we all met in the conference center for dinner. After dinner and dessert we visited for a long while, made plans for Saturday and then headed back to our cabins. Saturday morning dawned sunny and cold as we made our way back to the conference center for breakfast. After breakfast we split up into groups - those who were fishing and those who were shopping or sight-seeing in the area. Of course, I chose to fish - especially since I have an awesome CFR fly rod that has been begging to be used since June!! I fished with Denise (who is an instructor/former guide , so she was helping us instead of actually fishing) Tasha, Diane and Sister Carol at Cow Shoals. Diane was the only one to catch anything but we all had a great morning on the river. The group met at a riverside lodge, The Driftwood Lodge, for a catered lunch, served riverside. The proprietor, Sherry, and her daughter served an excellent lunch with wonderful hospitality! After lunch, I fished near the dam with Denise and Tasha - again, I didn't catch any but neither did a lot of the people we saw fishing so I didn't feel too bad about it. Denise fished this time and she did catch one brown. I just enjoyed the serenity of where I was for the day! After we decided we were cold enough and not catching any fish, we headed back to the resort to rest a bit before dinner. We met in the conference center for dinner, dessert, and lots of visiting. We finally headed back to our cabin about 9:30 but the four of us sharing the cabin continued to visit until the wee hours of the morning. Sunday morning ended with breakfast and plans for future reunions, a cookbook to raise funds for future reunions, and a website to help us keep in touch with one another. We shared lots of hugs and "till we meet again's" before we headed for home.

As Charlene and I visited on our way home, we reflected on the weekend and on the June retreat. The June retreat was a very emotional weekend for me in many ways. It was a very good time for reflection on where I had been but also a time to begin looking forward and thinking about where to go from where I was at that point in time. I came home with some much needed new perspective on some areas of my life. It had been very "out of my box" to even apply to attend a retreat with people I didn't even know. It proved to be a great step forward for me. There still are no words to really say how that weekend affected me in so many areas of my life. I just know that I am thankful I had the opportunity to participate and to meet so many wonderful women who I wouldn't have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.

This retreat was somewhat different. It was a wonderful, laid back time of fellowship, friendship, encouragement, fly fishing, or shopping, just whatever you wanted it to be. This weekend, I felt as if I were among 40 of my best friends, laughing and playing, encouraging and being encouraged. No matter where we have been or where we are going, we are bonded by our experiences with breast cancer, experiences that no matter how they try, no one else can really understand. I am thankful for these women whom God has placed in my life. They are angels of encouragement and hope.