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Getting away from it all not so far away


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We escaped the international debates about taking military action or disarming Syria’s chemical weapons. We also withdrew from the day-to-day pressing “to-do’s” of work-related calls, making dinner and the pressing family decisions of the day.

It was only for two days, but it was a retreat nonetheless.

On a chilly evening last Friday, we lodged our spent bodies around the fire pit on the round wooden deck, above the hill from the pond. The constant humming of crickets harmonized with the stories and laughter of women. After a morning of writing and collaborating on what makes good writing, goal-setting and writing leads, we shared a little more of ourselves.

We had earlier introduced ourselves to our new writing allies by sharing our writings: “Where I’m from” and “How I met God.” It always amazes me how simple letters on a page can display a palpable heart.

Around the warmth of the fire, Tara shared the comedic shock of realizing why her young son, one of eight, kept asking why he couldn’t be real. Confused and curious why her son kept insisting that he wanted to be “real, like his brother,” she gently asked more questions and listened for a clue. She finally realized what it sounded like when she included the middle name of his brother, “Israel.”

I wondered if the deer that were bedded down for the night in the nearby woods raised their heads and shook them sideways at the giggling carefree writers who had taken up residence at the Rest Ministries — Shepherd’s Gates Inn. Chuck and Becka Lehman are the directors (innkeepers/servant leaders) at Shepherd Gates Inn in Centerton, a mere 20 minutes west of Johnson County. The couple host group and personal retreats year-round in the 11,300-square-foot facility, with 27 lavishly decorated rooms that can accommodate up to 24 people.

Their website (www.rest-ministries.org) describes a personal retreat, also known as a sabbatical, as “pausing for a period of leave from one’s customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training, in preparing oneself for what lies ahead.”

Sometimes we do that by taking a walk into a park or our backyards to think or pray. But sometimes it’s nice to retreat 20 minutes away and feel pampered and served gourmet dinners — to retreat.

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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