A retreat away from sports


Not much to write about this week, as I’ve been away from the sports scene while cloistered at Bishop Lane Retreat House during a three-day gathering of Christian men. By cloistered, it means leaving phones, watches or any other attachments at home.

Even the clocks on the walls at the retreat center were removed. You truly don’t know what time it nor have any connection to the outside world.

As a person who enjoys sports, it can be a challenge. When this was scheduled, didn’t organizers take into account the NCAA basketball’s men’s Final Four on Saturday and the Iowa-South Carolina championship on Sunday?

Or, what about the 14-team boys and girls track & field meet on Saturday in Oregon. As a volunteer coach, shouldn’t I have been there?

The other activity that I “deprived” myself of was a 50-mile race I usually do every year at a park near Peoria on Friday.

All that went by the wayside, as my priorities changed, at least for one weekend of the year. This particular retreat is held once in the spring and once in the fall and can be a life-changing experience.

Yet, I’ve never done a fall retreat because there is high school, college and pro football going on and that mid-September weather makes is difficult to be cooped up inside a retreat house.

But, if a good football game is on, I stay glued to a TV (which is located inside my house).

As I reflect upon that, I question the emphasis I have towards sports. Certainly, I would grow more spiritually by attending the retreat than focusing on football, basketball and running. There are plenty of other weekends for all that.

There’s no mistaking the fact that sports have become the religion for the vast majority of Americans. I’ve already got the summer Olympics bookmarked on my summer calendar, so I know not to schedule anything else for that two-week time period.

I guess that is okay, but is there the same eager anticipation for one’s faith life?

That is a question I need to ask myself.

On another note, when I arrived back home Sunday after maybe six total hours of sleep over three nights, I found an out-of-state visitor at my house. Somehow, our wires got crossed and he arrived a day earlier than I had anticipated.

So much for relaxing and decompressing from the weekend.

But, there was a payoff the next morning, as I became travel guide and gave my friend a tour of all Oregon had to offer.

Coming from Salt Lake City with its vibrant downtown and beautiful mountains, I wasn’t sure how our town would stack up.

The first thing that stood out to him was the Rock River and the churning flow over the dam. Hmm, I never thought of that and I have crossed that Illinois Route 64 bridge thousands of times.

But, where he comes from, water can be scarce. As someone employed in lawn care, he was also impressed with how green our yards are.

As we drove around town, he mentioned how large houses and lots were compared those found in Salt Lake City. Never thought of that either.

Coming from the big city and not being accustomed to the rural scene, he was amazed at the vast stretches of farmland we have in Ogle County. How is this possible with irrigation he wondered?

Indeed, we are blessed with all the moisture we get in this pocket of the earth and how rich our soil is.

With all the history behind it, my job as Oregon tour guide was quite easy. The more we saw, the more he was impressed.

Sometimes, it takes an outsider to give us a greater appreciation for what we have.

Andy Colbert is a longtime Ogle County resident with years of experience covering sports and more for multiple area publications.