Last Sunday afternoon, we left our son’s home in North Vancouver and headed for Gibsons, setting of the popular Canadian comedy-drama series, The Beachcombers, that ran from October 1972 to December 1990. There we climbed aboard the Kinbasket Queen and left the rest of the world behind! Our destination was a five day family retreat at Barnabas Landing, perched on a hillside on Keats Island overlooking Howe Sound.
Taking it’s name from the New Testament character whose name means Son of Encouragement, Barnabas Family Ministries has been dedicated to strengthening, educating and encouraging families since 1986. Barnabas is sometimes referred to as a “thin place”, one of those wonderful places where the boundary between heaven and earth seems especially thin and we feel just a little closer to eternity. This past week was certainly like that, a time when we left the stresses and concerns of this world behind immersing ourselves in the beauty of the location, enjoying luxurious accommodations and savoury meals, and being renewed physically, mentally and spiritually.
Our days were full but energizing. Every morning after breakfast the children went off with their various age group leaders for a wide variety of activities while the adults attended sessions with our speaker. Afternoons were family activity time with many options to choose from. On Monday, Richard and I joined a group for a hike across the island to Bridgeman’s Bluff, one of the higher points on the island, where we enjoyed the spectacular view.
Other afternoons were spent taking long walks along the rocky beach, doing crafts, enjoying a wide variety of waterfront activities and visiting the General Store for ice cream treats.
Bedtime for the kids was a highlight for the young parents because it was taken care of by the staff! That’s right! While the adults attended another session with the speaker, staff tucked their little ones into bed and continued to look after them until 10:00 PM. After our sessions, the General Store was open again for the adults to enjoy a steamed milk or a cup of tea and a snack before heading back to their rooms and taking over their parental duties.
Our speaker for the week was leadership coach, Mark Warren, who specializes in helping people discover and experience their personal life callings. This was Matt and Robin’s third summer retreat at Barnabas and Mark was speaker at their first one. They enjoyed him so much that they specifically chose this week in order to hear him again and I can definitely see why. I found myself looking forward to each session. Learning about our core strengths and exploring our personality types, we came away with lots to consider and apply. We also learned about empathy and how to diagnose and master the stories in our heads about other people and how they affect communication and relationships. A dynamic Christian, Mark applied biblical principles to all that he taught us.
In addition to being a retreat centre, Barnabas is also a working farm and much of what we ate during the week came from its organic gardens. Everything was cooked from scratch and was delicious! With the exception of one formal, adult-only dinner, meals were served buffet style on the Orchard Terrace, a casual outdoor setting. Yes, we were well fed mentally, spiritually and physically!