Last weekend I had the privilege of spending some time with 30 lawyers and law students retreating in the Cascade mountains just over the pass from Seattle. Although I was the speaker for the weekend, I received much more than I gave.
What We Did
I laid out the four sessions this way:
Session 1: Law & Leisure. We began by discussing the role of true leisure-- the pursuit of the true, good, and beautiful in all that we do-- as central to the human calling and therefore a major part of the lawyer's calling. Josef Pieper's great book, Leisure, The Basis of Culture, was a major source for this.
Session 2: Vocation. We discussed the general doctrine, using many examples from Ed Veith's excellent book God at Work.
Session 3: We clarified all the stuff I muddied in session 2, then discussed what vocation might mean for lawyers in various practice areas.
Session 4: We broke into groups, shared what we had been thinking in this retreat setting, and then prayed for one another.
What I Learned
1. Session 4 is always the best and most appreciated session of any retreat. That's not to say that the speaker is never any good, only that a bunch of smart people, dedicated to faithful pursuit of their callings and their Caller create a fascinating community and a productive discussion. The wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and insight into the practical work of the lawyers is generally ferreted out only in dialogue. What a joy it is to dialogue with folks like this! On the prayer aspect, see #2 . . . .
2. This particular retreat began with a vision for such a gathering follwoed by the prayers of a few folks. When the vision became a reality, it was planned in prayer, and it was undergirded with prayer while we met. This matters. When we prayed for one another in small groups it was powerful.
I know it sounds like I'm in spiritual second grade, but I really am when it comes to prayer. I need to pray more. God is powerful and he acts when we pray. This was a good reminder for me.
3. God's people are great. God has created and empowered so many different kinds of folks, each with a unique bent, all with different backgrounds and goals. It is a joy to hear law students and lawyers share their journeys and their plans and marvel at the way God works through strange and interesting folks. Whether I was eating a Reuben sandwich next to new friends, sitting around before breakfast with a hot cup of coffee chatting about life, or engaging the formal Q&A, God was speaking to me through his servants. Good, clean fun, I might add.
A heartfelt thank you to the talented and thoughtful folks who lead of the Seattle Christian Legal Society group and who organized the event. I was encouraged and refreshed by my time with you, and I know the Lord is at work in your city and your community of lawyers.
And all of this is true even though Andy Toles wouldn't let me eat M&Ms on Friday night, because they were earmarked for Saturday's snack.
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PS If anyone is interested in attending next year's retreat, likely in Jan 2011 (the featured speaker will be a bit better), let me know and I'll get you in touch with the Seattle CLS leadership.