It is currently Wednesday at 1:08pm as I write this.
Lets rewind a little bit though, and I will give you a Sara Morris play by play of the week thus far.
On sunday we boarded our cars and embarked on one of my favorite weeks of the year, MONTREAT! We weren’t even out of the parking lot however, when my van, the Cooper van, started blasting Aaron Carter. If you aren’t familiar with Aaron Carter, not to worry, honestly you haven’t missed much. He was basically the Justin Beiber of the early 2000’s, and while the music isn’t the most spiritually enriching, it is definitely very catchy.
As we hummed along to Aaron (notice we hummed, not sang–they are the type of songs that no matter how many times you listen to them, you will never really know what the lyrics actually are) the air was filled with excitement, the type of excitement that feels thick in the air you can just feel when you enter a place.
Finally we entered Black Mountain, and just for the record, the Cooper van was in the lead. As we approached the famous Montreat gate, there was a little bit of a line waiting to get in, which made it all the more exciting. As we observed the vehicles passing through, we decided that maybe the bigger vans and busses were afraid that they were too big to pass, for as Beth Holloway said a few years back, “that gate is like a birth canal!”
As we came into Montreat and unpacked all of our stuff, the air was again thick, but this time it was thick with both excitement and humidity, and I begun to regret my decision to straighten my hair that morning.
We had a quick dinner and went down to worship the first night. I remember my first night at Montreat, the first time I came here and I remember feeling so taken back the first time I entered that auditorium. The feeling of so many Presbyterians, so many people believing the same things as you, and being so excited and enthusiastic concentrated in one place, is truly a feeling second to none. We were introduced to all of the staff for that week, and sang a few songs and did a few energizers, with the anticipation of the upcoming week flowing through our veins.
Erin and I decided to be in the choir this year which was a new and exciting addition to our Montreat experience. When we entered the room for the first time however for practice, we were both a bit startled. The conversations of those around us consisted of the best way to make a falsetto sounding voice, and how many measures one can hold a note without taking a breath, with someone cheering in the background repeatedly “SOPRANOS ROCK.” Erin has been around her fair share of “band geeks”, and I my fair share of “Orchadorks” but these diehard chorus aficionados with this “chorus language” was something that was interesting and new to both of us. However, it turns out that these “ chorus geeks” are wonderful very friendly people and it wasn’t long before I felt like I was speaking the secret chorus language myself.
The preacher for the week is a man named J Herbert Nelson. He lives in the DC area and there were a lot of people anticipating his messages, because word on Assembly road was he was very good at what he does. The first night I was a little bit caught of guard by him. As a stereotypical frozen chosen presbyterian I was startled when he jumped up and raised his voice passionately at us. However, I kind of love it. One of the best parts about Montreat is that it pushes you out of your comfort zone. Whether that be making new friends in small groups, or listening to a style of preaching that you are not used to, Montreat has a way of expanding your horizons. J Herbert Nelson’s sermons were extremely captivating and interesting and his style of preaching was so moving.
On Tuesday afternoon there was a color run. Everyone came decked out in their white t-shirts reading to be drenched in colors galore. Now, I’m going to be honest, even though I just spoke to how Montreat pushes you out of your comfort zone, I’m not really one to enjoy being covered in powder, from the inside of your nose to between your toes. So, you guessed it, I just observed the run, but that was definitely very enjoyable to me, and those who took part in it seemed to have a wonderful time and it was very cool to be walking around a sea of people that were blue and purple and orange.
They tell you a lot while you are here that Montreat is what is called “a thin place” for it is a place where the line between heaven and earth is a little blurred. I without a doubt have experienced this to be very true over my years here. There is just something about this place makes it so easier to feel the presence of God around you, and I look forward to a wonderful rest of the week in this extraordinary place.