If you walked off the street and in to one of the large group gatherings at the Annual Recreation Workshop (ARW), you might think that you’d stumbled on to a group of crazy people.
ARW is a place where games are wildly played, songs are loudly sung, worship is carefully crafted, art is mindfully created and friendships are strongly forged.
If you just popped in for an hour or an afternoon, you might think that the people who gather here are carefree, easy going and perhaps even a bit trivial. But the truth is there is as much trauma and drama and pain and hurt going on in the lives of those who come to ARW as there is in any other group. For the people of ARW, there are:
Babies on the way
Churches in trouble
Difficult parishioners to deal with
Financial problems to manage
Health problems to battle
Faith crises in full swing
Family issues to resolve
and unemployment woes to address.
Those who gather here to do not have trouble-free or perfect lives. They are not irresponsible or ignorant of the shape of the world.
They simply choose joy.
They (we) choose to respond to life–whatever life brings–with laughter and prayer and play. There are tears at times, but almost always followed by the laughter and the play. There is a abiding belief here that our response to God’s presence in our lives and in the world should be a joyful one.
So if you should stumble on to the campus of Montreat during ARW and find people dancing and laughing and playing and creating and singing, know that this is something we have chosen. Know also that if you’re living a life that is less than joyful, it’s a choice that you can make as well.
–Rev. Anne Russ