Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Highland Retreat, VA: a Great Escape

One of the great things about living in the Shenandoah Valley is being able to get away from the city and up in the mountains in such a short time. Last Saturday morning I had the privilege of leading a women's retreat program at Highland Retreat, a getaway northwest of Harrisonburg, just inside the West "by-God" Virginia line (not sure where the expression came from, but if you want to get a knowing smile and laugh around here, you just say "West By-God Virginia"). If you keep going on Route 259, pretty soon you get to Lost River and Lost City. So I suppose I was just shy of Lost when I arrived at Red Oak Lodge last Saturday morning just before the 8am breakfast was to begin. I was scheduled to do a program on voice (as in "finding one's ____") from 9-11am.
At 8:50, after a couple of coffees and a hearty breakfast of eggs and sausage and fruit, prepared lovingly by the kitchen ladies, I took a couple of minutes to just stand outside and look and listen. The piece of land is up quite high, so the feeling is of being on a plateau. All around me were the tops of snow-covered mountains, and it was absolutely silent. No birds or bugs or breezes making sound, just that insulated dense quiet, the sound of blood in the ears, of breath, of shoes on the gravel driveway.
I remember how loud Harrisonburg seemed when we moved into the city from Massanutten Mountain over ten years ago. Now, my definition of quiet is more the absence of human or electronic sounds, but it's so easy to forget all the background noise that is loudest when taken away completely, when compared to a place like Highland Retreat.
If you are ever looking for a place to camp, to have a family reunion, a nature-themed wedding or a professional development retreat, click on the title of this post for more information. It's a lovely place.
Oh -- and the speed limit, once you pass the office / welcome building, is 14 1/2 mph.

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