Each year on the weekend just before Thanksgiving, St. Peter’s Choir travels to Valle Crucis for our annual choir retreat. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year. Choir members arrive at the inn on Friday afternoon. The table in the common area quickly fills up with all the delicious food everyone has brought to share. There’s plenty of time for fun and fellowship. There are games of ping-pong and a card game for which I can never recall the rules year-to-year, or sometimes even hand-to-hand. And there’s a fireplace we can all gather around to chat at the end of the day.
But mostly, we spend our time rehearsing. The timing of our choir retreat is not accidental, falling just before the start of Advent. Our time in Valle Crucis is a time of preparation as we head into one of the busiest times of the church year. The amount of music St. Peter’s Choir will offer in worship, between Lessons and Carols this Sunday and the two Choral Eucharists on Christmas Eve, would feel overwhelming if not for our time together in the mountains.
A non-choir member asked me recently if we really need to hold this retreat in Valle Crucis. Why not just have extra rehearsal time at St. Peter’s? Wouldn’t that be far more convenient? And it’s true, for many of us, finding space in our busy lives to be away for that weekend can be a challenge. But finding that space is important – stepping away from our daily routine is precisely what makes choir retreat such a special experience. And in this season of Advent we are called to do just that: to find space in the midst of our busy lives to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ.
People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.
Elizabeth Lenti, Director of Music and Organist