Christmas Retreat – Revisited with Friends

THIS PAST SUNDAY AFTERNOON, my friend Diane Carter and I went to visit Laura Whidden, a dear friend of ours. Laura was performing her annual Christmas concert at the Union Coffee House in Buchanan, Michigan. Laura’s concert was just as refreshing this past Sunday as it was two years ago when I wrote the following story.  I have included pictures this time  to help you experience what I felt.

Christmas Retreat

by Sheryl M. Baker

I NEEDED TO ESCAPE.  My days were churning together in an endless swirl of busyness.  I was drowning in the tasks of Christmas preparation rather than soaking in the peacefulness of its meaning.  I had to do something before I was completely sucked under unable to breathe.

So this past Sunday afternoon, I decided to take a drive to visit a special friend.  I had not seen Laura since October, but I knew I would find the peace I was looking for in her presence.  My friend Laura Whidden is a singer, songwriter and musician.  Her Christmas concert at the Union Coffee House in Buchanan, Michigan promised to be the refocusing element I so desperately needed.

My journey took me down winding roads sandwiched between dirty brown farm fields; plowed and tucked away for the upcoming winter snow.  Houses and barns dotted the roadside as I wound through open country.  Driving along, the thoughts that cluttered my mind when I left soon started to evaporate.  The further from home I wandered, the clearer my mind became. My focus now centered on the impending concert and the rejuvenation I hoped it would bring.

The coffee house was nestled on the corner of two streets in this serene little town.  On the outside, all was still .  Yet when I opened the door, my ears were greeted with a cacophony of conversation and the gargling grind of an espresso machine.  The aroma of maple nut coffee hung heavy in the air tickling my nose with an invitation to partake. 

The coffee house walls bulged with people who had come, just like me, to indulge in a Sunday afternoon retreat.

I stepped to the counter, purchased a Mocha Chiller (this time is was an Irish Mocha Latte), and then found a seat at a front row table.

For the next hour and a half, I was transported into the land of Bethlehem and the birth of the Christ child through Laura’s music.  The melody of old familiar Christmas carols wrapped me like a warm blanket.  Her original compositions made my heart long for family.  Some thrust me into the realm of worshiping the baby born to save the world.  I closed my eyes listening contentedly as Laura passionately sang of her Savior.   I had found the peace for which my soul ached.  In that short span of time, my heart was born anew.

When Laura’s concert ended, I chatted with her briefly before making my way home.  Having arrived with a heavy heart burdened by the tasks of the season, I departed with my heart renewed; refocused on the joy Christmas brings.  My mind was now centered, once again, on the reason we celebrate Christmas.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11, KJV)

It is my prayer that you will take a moment to step away from the busyness of the season and retreat to a quiet place.  Spend some time reflecting on the birth of Christ our Savior.  As you do, I pray that your heart will be born anew.

Chorus to Laura’s original song Born Anew.

Born anew.
Child of the Father; breathing for the first time.
Born anew.
Humble beginning with a glorious end.
And the angels sing, “Glory!”
Because You are born anew.

To find out more about Laura Whidden and follow her music, visit www.laurawhiddenmusic.com.

The story "Christmas Retreat" has been published in More Christmas Moments compiled by author Yvonne Lehman (2015). You can purchase More Christmas Moments on Amazon. The proceeds from the sale of the book go to Samaritan's Purse - a non-profit ministry that helps people all over the world.