This past weekend, I attended a men’s retreat in the Ochoco Mountains. Well, I didn’t actually attend the event. I helped with meal prep, serving, and clean-up.
Knowing the camp directors needed kitchen volunteers, I told Dan I’d like to go – but only if he enjoyed the full experience of the retreat. We pretty much stayed away from each other (although we may have stolen a kiss or two in the kitchen).
Spending hours on your feet, slicing and dicing and stirring extra-large portions of food, loading tubs of dirty dishes and restaurant-size pots and pans onto racks at the washing station, and packing trays of clean dishes to their rightful place in the kitchen—this is physically demanding stuff.
Both nights, I returned to my cabin and collapsed on the sofa.
Here’s what I learned this past weekend: Men like food. Men are appreciative of food. Men gather long before the pre-arranged mealtime to stand around and talk within smell of the forthcoming food.
I was reminded that men like to play—think: laser tag and motorcycle riding on forest roads—and that men’s voices harmonizing together is elegantly beautiful.
But here’s the most important thing from this past weekend: Much joy comes from the everyday, routine, commonplace activities, from cooking and serving good food, and cleaning up after people you’ve grown to care for.
Gladness shows up when working side-by-side with a crew that is passionate about their life’s calling—in this case, a husband-wife team whose hours of duty as camp directors are 24/7.
There’s joy in returning home after a weekend away to discover beauty just beginning to bloom in your yard, to rediscover how relaxing and comfortable it is to sit in the same room with someone you love—talking, sipping tea, reading.
I recently came across this poem from an author unknown:
There is beauty in the
mundane. Life doesn’t
have to be constantly
adventurous and exciting
to be fun or worth living.
There’s beauty in spending
a Saturday baking cookies and
reading a good book. There’s
beauty in taking a hot shower
after a hard day. There’s
beauty in ordering pizza and
watching a movie with your best
friend. These things are just
as worthwhile as traveling the
world or skydiving. You’re
allowed to appreciate small
joy, as well as big
There’s beauty in the small joys, and we’re allowed to appreciate them.
We’re encouraged to appreciate them.
Our lives are much more full—as in, joyful, thankful, peaceful—if we appreciate them.