Thursday, July 10, 2008

Break-Away Part II

It was February of 1994. I was about to head up north to Break-Away, a weekend Christian retreat. On Friday afternoon, one of my roommates and a friend were watching TV in my room. They asked if I was sure I wanted to go to this thing. I said I wasn't super hot on it, but was gonna give it a try. Shortly thereafter, I was picked up by 3 guys I knew from IV, Troy (who would be driving), Mike, and a Korean born fellow whose name escapes me at the moment.

It was about a 4-hour trip to get there. I don't recall much of what was discussed on the way up there, I just knew that I was looking forward to getting away. We stopped at a convenience store to pick up a few snacks before arriving at Cragun's resort. The resort was quite beautiful and rustic (located right next to a now-frozen lake). This is what it looks like during the summertime:

Troy parked the car and we headed in to register. The lobby was quite cozy with a fireplace nearby. There was a lot of love there, many happy people hugging and conversing.

Once registered, we looked for some of our compatriots from Winona. We found a number of them watching an informal basketball game in the resort's gym. Jon Carson was among them. We checked our rooms out next. 4 people were assigned to each room and there were 2 beds. Hmm...

Me and the Korean bloke (and 2 others not from the Winona area) were supposed to be in one room, but Jon thought that since the Korean dude was so new to the Christian faith, he should stay with some of the folks he knew from Winona. The Korean guy, like me, wasn't totally on board with being a true-blue Christian. I guess you could say we were doubting Thomases. Jon said he would sleep on the floor so as to avoid temptation. Alright, I would have a queen size bed to myself. Nice.

Before long, it was time to head to our first Break Away session. Oh, how I wished that I could spend the weekend just relaxing and socializing, but it was expected that we attend all the meetings. Jon headed to his while I headed to mine. For some reason, I was a tad late and when I got to the meeting room, the lecture had already started and there were no seats left. Thank you, God. I can go back to my room and just chill! Then I thought of Jon and realized I should be a good boy. Nothin' like fear to keep one in line, eh?

So I sat in the back of the room on the floor. There was one other person I recognized, a girl named Alyssa who went both to IV and Christians in Action. I was somewhat surprised that such a hard-core girl (whenever she saw a poster for a GLAAD meeting, she would remove it from the wall and dispose of it) was in, basically, a beginner's class. Interesting.

After a half hour or so, there was a break and I was delighted to see a couple open seats. I sat down next to Alyssa and we struck up a beautiful friendship that weekend. She was fairly tall and slender with glasses and a laid-back disposition I grew to love. I made many little jokes with her over the next couple days and was always pleased when she would giggle at something I said. Keep in mind, I'd not yet had a girlfriend yet. The lecturer talked some more about why Jesus is the "real thing" and gave various reasons this was so. I wasn't totally buying it, but was more than willing to listen. Class ended and we all headed back to our rooms.

I met my 2 other roommates. They were nice guys who would have conversations that were quite intereting to listen to. Here's what I can remember of one of them:

Chris: I love listening to country music. My favorite song is the new one by John Michael Montgomery. It's called "I Swear".

Joe: Yeah, well, I just listen to Christian music.

Despite their differences, they managed to sleep together quite well. Too well, in fact. It usually takes me a while to get to sleep and before I knew it, I was hearing loud snoring coming from the next bed. I tried to cover my ears with pillows, tried to block it out, but it wasn't working. I wondered if the main desk might have cotton balls or somethin' like that. I could use all the help I could get. So I put my clothes on and headed for the lobby.

No comments: