Mountain Retreat, 1977

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 12:1-2 (NKJV)

This verse was part of my devotions today. I always smile when I read this verse. Then I remember my first retreat in the mountains south of Tokyo so long ago.

We went with our Friday night fellowship group and traveled by car. The night before we left Dale was working on the car, prepping it for the long trip. It was growing dark and supper was ready to eat. I walked out of our home and went to where he was. He had a pair of pliers in his hand and I startled him. The result was that the pliers swung around and shorted out the battery. It being 1977, and in a foreign country, there was no where to find a replacement battery and we were leaving early in the morning. But, we were young, and I was strong and the car was light, so we pushed the car, Dale jumped in and hit the clutch and away we went. We did get several looks whenever we stopped as these crazy Americans pushing a car to get it to go. Eventually we arrived at the retreat center.

The lodge was settled amongst the mountains. We all arrived at the same time. Our friend Pam jumped out of their car and we both talked of the beauty of this place. That was the first time I heard the above scripture. I had never heard it before then, and I will always connect it with that time and place.

In fact, I really cannot remember any of the messages, I know I took notes. The scripture in Psalm 121 was my lesson. I lift up my eyes to the hills. I know where my help comes from. I have never looked at another mountain the same way. Each time that scripture resonates in my mind and envelopes me with sweet memories.

The retreat was Japanese style. No beds, just futons. Layers of comfy quilts piled on top of another. Sleep was probably some of the best sleep I have had. Each night we pulled out the futons and slept and each morning, they were put away in the closet. Futons had their own space for storage.

The meals all had mushrooms in them. It was a bit overpowering and it did turn me off of mushrooms for a long time. The other staple were eggs. From quail eggs to huge eggs that one could feed a family.

The showers were in a different building, an ofuro, a building for men and the other for women. It was a public bath. You would wash off in what looked like a locker room and then take your clean body to soak in this huge shallow pool filled with steaming water and lots of strangers. It was something I never adjusted to that week, but, I admit that once sitting in the pool every muscle relaxed and renewed.

I have thought of that week today. I never imagined that I would have had these experiences. When I think on them, it is like a dream that was real Moments in life have a way of etching themselves in you. Memories tattoo themselves in your mind. Sometimes a reading of a devotional can once more transport you back to a time and place you never could have imagined.

I am thankful daily for the life the Lord has given me. It has been filled to overflowing with adventure and surprise. Thank You, Jesus.

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