Tomorrow, many UU Asheville friends, members, and staff will head to The Mountain for our annual congregational retreat and I am giddy with anticipation. For new folks, the Mountain is a UU camp and conference center located outside Highlands, NC atop 4,200’ Little Scaly Mountain. I still get butterflies when driving up the winding road even though I know I am too old for youth camps there. No, things will not be as they were two years ago at the UU Asheville Gathering at The Mountain – putting our infant daughter on our dining table as a centerpiece, gleefully singing and eating indoors – unaware of how special unmasked times like those would become. But this weekend will still be awesome thanks to the preparation by Kristi Sanborn Miller and a host of others who have planned outdoor events and activities like a nice warm fire complete with stories and music on Saturday night.
My days of summer camp at The Mountain were filled with similar evenings listening to the music of local musician, Lee Knight. Lee was born in the Adirondack mountains but came to The Mountain as an employee about the time The Mountain was founded. He entertained youth camps there for more than four decades and became an accomplished musician playing with Pete Seeger, Wu Man, and the Kronos Quartet. I regret not seeing him at Carnegie Hall, but I have many bootleg recordings of his including one from our wedding and other recordings from around the campfire circle where we will be gathered on Saturday night.
A campfire almost sounds like an event that could happen on our new patio (is that a hint for a program?) Now that our sweet patio has been dedicated and broken in with a service under its belt, we can plan more outdoor and hybrid events, which is exactly what the staff has in mind. (The pet dedication service was a barking success, so much so that I was not able to listen at home thanks to our Labradoodle, Chloe, who was happily conversing with other attendees.) Yes, UU Asheville leaders are brainstorming creative ways to get together and we will continue our pivot and roll with the punches. For me, being in the presence of others seeking a deeper connection is the core of UU Asheville. Looking around and seeing a smiling face looking back at you in the midst of a shared experience is what we find at UU Asheville and it reminds me of some of my favorite lyrics from a Lee Knight’s song:
Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.
Sometimes you have those lowdown blues.
But your smiling face and this pretty place,
And I’m so glad to be with you.
I hope to see you at The Mountain or on the patio soon.
Adam Griffith, UU Asheville Board of Trustees