As you perhaps know we recently completed the CiRCE Summer Institute at the beautiful Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, NC for, this year a conversation about Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. Mr. Jonathan Councell, our friend from Veritas Classical School in Asheville, NC volunteered to journal his experience here at the retreat. The following thoughts came from his day 4 experience.
For this day I would like to shed a little light on the unique environment and spirit of this retreat. Several attendees were simply astounded by the depth of conversation and the willingness to (though from a diverse backgrounds) minister to the needs of each one spiritually. A real “mere christianity” atmosphere. A sense of safety and openness that is rare in the world today, and yet one that we all long for.
We were not only diverse in theological background, but also individually. Whether simple literature teachers (like myself), classical educators, Classical Conversations administrators and members, Homeschoolers, Curriculum developers, or individuals in educational support or consulting, there was an overall beautiful blending of interests and experiences. There was, it seemed, a collective desire to minister to each one of us as well as to be ministered to by all. The ages varied considerably, further creating a more intricate and beautiful design to the tapestry of this time together.
The banquet at the award winning Bob Timberlake restaurant was meant to be the climax of the week’s schedule. But it was also the climax, in a way that cannot be planned, of our fellowship and newly forged relationships. This meal “tempered” us into a bendable but unbreakable bond that mirrored our connection as members of the Body of Christ. Food and drink were plentiful in mythic proportions, impromptu speeches were given by all (some humerous, some serious), and we ended with the Doxology. This evening had a rich and honest tone and many of us were reduced to tears of thankfulness.
Several of us came without a deep love for the Odyssey, but we all left with one. Some came with deep questions or desires for community; all left with a sense that answers would come andthat others cared for them. All may have come to learn, but all left encouraged and changed by their experience.