Oh, my Lord. The Women of St. Paul’s have gone on retreat at the Dubose Conference Center “on the mountain” in Sewanee, Tennessee.
It is late Friday night as I am writing this and I just heard wild hooting occurring down the hallway of Bishops’ Hall where we are staying. Bishops’ Hall, for God’s sake. It is obvious we all needed a break from the quiet, pious lives we lead at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
This is our first retreat and more than 50 women arrived this afternoon, bearing chips and dips, Chex Mix, hot onion dip, cheese balls and LOTS of wines. And, bear in mind, we are being fed three squares a day so it’s not as if we will starve.
Cocktail hour was supposed to start at 5:30, but it actually got underway at 4:15. And I cannot tell you how impressed I am that Merida Stearns brought appletinis. I will bet you doughnuts to dollars that the Baptists do not have appletinis at their retreats. And I also cannot tell you how grateful I am that Marida brought hot onion dip, which is to die for.
I’m sorry. I lost my train of thought for a moment. Someone is going up and down the hallway knocking on doors.
We have supper. It’s quite nice – salmon, carrots, green beans, wild rice medley and chocolate pie. Very Episcopalian. Virtuous food chased by pie. Supper was followed by a movie with popcorn and BYOB. So now we have had appetizers, supper and popcorn in the space of three hours.
Some of us congregate in Donna Stokes-Rogers’ room, even though she has gone to the store for Band-Aids (I don’t know why) and has clearly not invited us. We work the crossword puzzle with clues that answer a question about each of us asked before the retreat started: Tell us a surprising fact about yourself. Here are a few. “I can tie a cherry stem into a knot in my mouth, a talent I perfected in high school.” “I used to run a meat-packing plant.” “I won my elementary school spelling bee, but was defeated in the city bee by “feud” because if you say it like a proper East Kentuckian, it sounds like fffuuued.” “I saw Charleton Heston in his underwear” (that was me). Tell me you don’t want to know these women.
The official evening ends with Compline in the chapel. It is moving. The room has high ceilings and our voices echo. We sound like nuns.
It is raining. The rain will turn to snow during the night. There is loud laughter down the hallway. I do love these women. Back in the world, they have come to my aid a thousand times. They have comforted the afflicted, supported each other in terrible times of trial and championed our individual victories.
Morning Prayer starts at 7:30 tomorrow morning. And we’ll be there. Maybe a little fuzzy. But we’ll be there.
8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup onion, minced
Combine ingredients and bake in a casserole dish at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Serve with crackers.