Well, I'm back home, and have been in the process of unpacking everything for about four days now. Although I'm still getting some of the books, computer files, clothes, and other odds and ends I brought with me back into a state of normalcy, I think I'm going to need even more time to unpack some of the experiences that I've had.
Between this blog, Facebook, and my face-to-face communications, one phrase that I find I've used a lot over the couple of weeks I was in Montreat is "I've missed this." I've missed being around people who understand the significance of phrases like "Exit 64 on I-40," who know the goodness of My Father's Pizza, and who can talk at length about what David LaMotte is up to. I've missed early morning energizers that leave you exhausted and sweaty and messy and your glasses all fogged up, yet ready to face the day with enthusiasm. I've missed sappy theme songs sung every day (often multiple times a day). I've missed not feeling like I have to walk on eggshells around certain hot political and religious issues — not because everyone there agrees (for proof of this, one need only look at the mixture of friends who label themselves as "conservative" and "liberal" among those who've been added to my Facebook "friends" list over the past week), but because people are able to look past those issues and agree on the things that really matter. I've missed seeing buildings that I used to spend many, many happy hours in, and landmarks through which I've left my own mark on the city. I've missed Montreat.
But now I'm home. Of course, besides the memories and many, many pictures I've taken while there, I have a few more physical mementos of the occasion, too. I took advantage of the opportunity to pick up a Montreat car magnet and a David LaMotte bumper sticker. I have the gifts given to me by the Planning Team with the "Throw Open the Doors" logos on them. And I have what I'm calling my "Montreat Rock Collection." I briefly mentioned earlier that at the end of the week, we gave out prayer rocks to members of the Small Group. I currently have five such rocks. One will be sent to a Small Group member who sadly couldn't be present for the last meeting. Two of the others were from other leadership staff, as we did a similar ceremony among ourselves at the beginning of each week. The last two are from Small Group members — one for each week — that I happened to draw their rock as other members of the group had done. Likewise, four people out there have my rocks from these various occasions. It's one way of reminding us that we're all still connected, even though we're not all physically in Montreat any more.
It seems that I'm not the only one who's suffering from Montreat withdrawal. Many of the "status reports" on Facebook these past few days among my new friends say something to the effect of "I miss Montreat." Readjusting to the "real world" has been tough. But perhaps we can help each other. The prayer rocks are a great example. Those of you who have the prayer rocks with my name on them, keep those prayers coming! I can sure use them! I promise to do the same in return.