Monday, November 25, 2013

The Napoleons In Retreat

Last weekend was set apart for the autumn getaway for the Notting Hill Napoleons, our literary society of nearly 25 years. For the last decade or so, this very pleasant retreat has occurred at the beautiful and comfortable Whispering Pines bed & breakfast in Nebraska City. We come down Friday evening and stay through early Sunday morning, then driving back to be in time for our respective church duties.

During our time in Nebraska City, we enjoy conversation, prayers, laughter, reminiscing, meals, occasional games and field trips, the discussion over that year's Charles Dickens novel, the voting over next year's reading list, and more. It has been a truly wonderful experience.

This year, however, had its challenges. For instance, it was our first year without Chet Thomas, our dear brother who passed away last summer. So many scenes at Whispering Pines this time around reminded us of him and that was sometimes difficult. Also tough this year was that Claire wasn't feeling well. She missed Friday night completely but managed to make it for most of Saturday, only to have a relapse which caused us to leave for home about 8 o'clock Saturday night.

She is, by the way, feeling much better now.

But despite even these challenges, the retreat was meaningful and rewarding in many ways. Being at Whispering Pines, even for a few hours, is an oasis in our year. That's a significant blessing. But so too was the discussion of Oliver Twist, the visit to the G.A.R. Museum and the interesting lectures we were given on Saturday morning, the drive through the historic Wyuka cemetery, the delicious soup supper on Friday night, the quiet talk with Quint in the early morning hours of Saturday and then heading in to make a breakfast of eggs, potatoes, sausage and biscuits. These things were really great fun and I'm deeply grateful for all of them. 

I'm grateful, first of all, to God from Whom all blessings flow. And yet I'm also grateful to the members of our book club (John & Barb Malek, Karla Struble, Ruth Denzler, Bill & Karin Coker, Quint & Carol Coppi); the fellows who made our visit to the museum so interesting, and to Whispering Pines' gracious innkeeper, Jeanna Stavas.