Last week I attended SOULfeast, a conference organized by Upper Room Ministries. Each year people of various denominations travel to Lake Junaluska, in the North Carolina mountains, for several days of soul exercise. We learn, we are stretched, we rest, we pray, we eat, we celebrate, we worship, we sing, we play. Children and adults, individuals, families, church groups—all sorts of folks pilgrimage to the mountains to be both spiritually renewed and challenged to grow.
When I arrived and checked into the conference, I had a deep inner peace that I had arrived home. I don’t live in the area. As far as I know, I am not related to any of the other participants at SOULfeast. But the sense of being home was overwhelming. The mountains are already where I feel closest to God, so just being there is a good head start for spiritual renewal, but that was not the whole of what I experienced. It was being with a family of faith, a group of people from all over the world whose deep yearning for greater intimacy with God compelled them to this holy place, this weeklong community of the body of Christ.
I had always thought of home as a place inhabited by folks with whom I shared a common life experience. Even in that sense, I was still home at SOULfeast. I saw folks I see there every year, some of whom travel great distances to be there. I marveled at children who had grown and changed because I see them each year.