I am currently on a faculty retreat at Fall Creek Falls State Park. I first visited Fall Creek Falls over twenty years ago. It is a beautiful park. The falls are beautiful and the lake is serene. In recent years we have had several faculty retreats here. The inn is comfortable but not lavish. The food is high calorie, southern style buffet. When you come save room for the banana pudding; it is the best I have had in a restaurant. There are some nice hiking trails and horseback riding is available. But the best thing about the park is that it is quiet. Cell phones don’t work here. This is a place to do nothing.
It is a good place for a retreat. With all of the beauty of God’s creation sculpted in all directions, we spend most of our time in windowless rooms working. I have always wondered why we call these endeavors retreats. “Retreat” seems to imply rest and relaxation. We work. To be fair, in recent years our Dean has worked into the schedule a few hours of down time; he’s an avid golfer.
This morning I had an epiphany. “Retreat” is the appropriate name for these forced work camps. In times of war armies retreat in an effort to avoid defeat and surrender. A retreat is in essence an admission of failure and surrender to circumstances in an effort to buy time, avoid disaster, and strategize for survival. Armies retreat in an effort to appear prudent in the face of certain destruction. In other words, retreats are punishment for making the generals look bad. Anytime an army fails to make its generals look successful it deserves the shame of retreat.
I surrender. I will do better next semester. I promise. Sir, yes sir!
Can you tell I’m here without Cheryl?
Fall Creek Falls, Tennessee
May 4, 2010