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  • I've never been on a 12-Step Group Retreat before. 40 years ago, when I Iived here in Connecticut for a little over a year, I belonged to a youth group, Pilgrim Fellowship, "PF", that did retreats every season. I went on 5 of them then, and a few while I was in the Navy and came back up here for them. I had great experiences on retreats. I fell in love on a retreat. I lost a girl and found another one on a retreat, I had an experience of sitting under a tree with 6 people and blending into one, connected soul for a couple hours, on a retreat. So I have a good frame of reference for retreats.

    So far, this one is living up to my idea of how a retreat should be. The Senexet House, the sprawling old, old Retreat House we're staying in for the weekend in Woodstock, right on a frozen lake in the woods, has quite a rustic charm to it. It has its own story, which I understand we're going to hear about tonight.

    As the 25 men were slowly gathering last night, I was standing in the library, where there are incredibly old books On the shelves. I pulled down one published and last printed in 1866, with a preface written in 1860, most of the book written in Greek, by Demosthenes. Bob pulled down something from 1790.

    It's a great group of guys. We did a "check-in" sharing, after an incredible family style dinner last night, and I was sure, then, that I was here for a reason. There was a spirit of warmth and a depth of sharing that was deep, honest, vulnerable and intimate.

    Afterwards, a poker game got going in the dining room. After an incredibly slow start, I pulled some hands, the likes of which I may never see at a poker table again - a full house on a straight 5 card stud hand, no wild cards. I pulled about 5 hands like that over the course of the last half of the game, to more than make up for my early losings. Nice, big pile of quarters by the end. I apparently lived up to the Bridgeman reputation, as Jim is well-known in the group for his prowess at the poker table. We might have trouble getting anyone to play with us tonight!

    The beds are impossibly small, and not the most comfortable, but then this weekend isn't about comfort - it's about connection. I know I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

    I've learned something new, but unsurprising, about my brother Jim. He may be an intellectual giant, but...man, he snores like a lumberjack at a sawmill, just like the rest of us!

    It's great being here with my big brother, and his wonderful home group. Loving the whole experience, so far.
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