Two Weeks in the Bush
The living room was always warm in the morning.
The fire from the previous night would smoulder and leave a haze over the couches, pillows and blankets that filled the space. Usually there would be someone up, quietly collecting more firewood, boiling water for a big cup of bengal spice tea, or walking off into the trees with a bible and pen in hand.
The mornings seemed particularly sweet in the two weeks we spent at Gunyah Valley Retreat. As each person wandered in to the main house I would watch them be received with genuine adoration. Despite spending each day together, these mornings never became weary or forced. Every hug was as warm, every smile as sincere as the last.
I kept expecting tension to spoil it, my previous experiences of camps half the length would tell me irritation and misunderstandings were inevitable. Yet one morning overlapped the last and they only seemed to be filled with more excitement as we grew in love and trust for one another. This was family, untainted by unmet expectations or misdirected frustrations.
How can it be family though? Some people had only met on arrival, everyone a different age, a different history, a different testimony. This family must just be another form of Christian hype!
In such close proximity to one another, it was impossible to “fake” it.
A close friend read Colossians 3 to me whilst I was deciding to go to Children of Inheritance or not. Paul writes to those who “have been raised with Christ” to “set your hearts on things above” and later in the verse to “let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms , hymns and songs from the spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
It’s true, we each came with our differences, but with the single mind of worshipping God in whatever form that could take. We desired to make an album, to make friends, to create art and maybe even have a good kick of the footy but all of that was secondary to pursuing intimacy with The Father.
From here a space was fostered, in which vulnerabilities could be shared, doubts exposed, truths established and praise lifted as we stood firm in the knowledge of our identity as God’s children “ holy and dearly loved”. This love, that transcends understanding isn’t confined the the boundary of Gunyah Valley Retreat or the 22 people that filled it.
This love is made possible by the Holy Spirit and is accessible constantly if we choose, to fill us with peace so we may remain just like that fireplace in the wooden cabin that never got cold.
By Maddy Wright