A mountaintop experience (literally and figuratively)

Leg muscles aching, knees throbbing, and sweat glistening … but hearts beating strong, faces beaming, and souls brimming with blessings.

That’s how I would describe the mountaintop experience that eight of us Metro men enjoyed while attending the annual Men’s Retreat this weekend at Pilgrim Pines Camp & Conference Center in Swanzey, NH.

Our crew joined about 80 other men who came from New England and the Mid-Atlantic to retreat, be refreshed and to reorient ourselves in submission to God and what He wanted to say and do this weekend, which was themed “Gear Up.”

The guest speaker (and friend of Metro), Pastor Michael Carrion of Promised Land Covenant Church in the South Bronx, definitely “kicked it,” and as he said on Sunday before his sermon and before we took communion, “We came as strangers, but we leave as brothers.” He preached about the following passages and posed pointed questions to all of us:

1 Samuel 22 – David and the “motley crew” of distressed and discontented men who gathered with him at the cave of Adullam. They would become his army. Question: What are YOU running from?

1 Samuel 30:1-8 – David and his men destroy the Amalekites. During a time of great loss and potential rebellion among his men, David sought the wisdom of God by requesting the ephod. Question: Will you stress in your situation, or will you “request the ephod?”

2 Samuel 11, 12 – David should be where God wants him to be, but he gets complacent. He doesn’t ask God, takes what is not his, and commits sin upon sin. Later, he is rebuked harshly by God’s prophet. Question: Where does God want you to be, but you’re not? Will you be thankful for what you have, and will you beware of complacency?

As if this mountaintop experience weren’t enough, we spurred each other on to scale the 3,200-foot-high Mount Monadnock, which is the second-highest peak in New Hampshire. What the locals call a “hike” was clearly more like a climbing/bouldering expedition for us! On Saturday afternoon, 6 of us conquered the mountain in four hours (2 hours up, 2 hours down).  From the oldest to the youngest and from the least experienced to the most conditioned, we ALL made it to the top and enjoyed the amazing 360-degree views of the fall foliage and overall beauty of God’s creation together.

For some, it was a bucket-list moment. For others, it was a great way to work off the pounds we ingested during all of the hearty meals. For me (and probably not just me), it was a poignant reminder that God is bigger than me and my issues, and that if I have faith in Him, He can move what may appear to be immovable mountains in my life.

While we were risking our lives (only slightly), other guys were hurling hatchets at trees, climbing walls and ziplining, launching raw eggs via human slingshots, playing tennis or golf, enjoying coffee and conversation, or just soaking in the gorgeous lake and brilliant fall foliage.

Besides that, we laughed, ate, slept, played Settlers of Catan and just enjoyed time away SO THAT we could come back more transformed, better versions of ourselves. For His glory and our joy. Priceless.

Metro men – will you join us next year? The Pilgrim Pines Men’s Retreat is every Columbus Day weekend, which makes next year’s dates 10/8-10/17. Gio Rosario said, “Dominicans don’t do mountains,” but he did … and will do it again if YOU come!

See ya in Swanzey!

Wes Nam, Simon Kong, Giovanni Rosario, Temmy Park, Dennis Kwon, Paul Hur, Dan Kim, Don Kim