This is not a #GivingTuesday Email

The day before Thanksgiving, Lorenzo and I walked along Jenks Lake Road in the snow. The only footsteps were our own…and those of a lone deer who checked us out before skittering up the embankment of Barton Creek.

It was silent. Expansive. Breathtaking. Transcendent.

I don’t encounter that kind of peace often down the hill in Los Angeles. You probably don’t either, which is why I thought I would share this snapshot with you.

We could have gone to Big Bear on our own for Thanksgiving, but we didn’t. Because we value the kind of community we share at Camp de Benneville Pines.

We enjoyed our cabinmates the joyful two-year-old Dylan and his parents. We played spoons with our “Thanksgiving family” from Encinitas and Pasadena.

We made lightbulb snowmen in Homet Lodge (thanks Gretchen from Ventura UU) and caught up with our PSWD neighbors from the north (Unitarian Universalist Society of the High Desert) to the south (First UU Church of San Diego).

Our teenage girls got off their iPhones for a while to build actual snowmen in the amphitheater and took time to get in a snowball fight on the lodge patio. And we got to enjoy them as they are meant to be.

The normally spotty internet was completely out for a day (the result of a steady snowstorm that delivered upwards of two feet of snow over 24 hours) and it was marvelous!

We even got to be of service, helping to shovel walkways to keep them safe for campers young and old, and dig out the car of some no-longer-strangers from Camarillo.

It’s a blessing, Camp de Benneville Pines, our shared spiritual home in the mountains owned by the UUA member congregations of the PSWD. And it is the only one of its kind west of the Rockies.

At retreats all year long, thousands of UUs and kindred spirits across the Pacific Southwest District get to retreat from city life, play, connect with what matters most, reflect, and explore what might be possible.

It’s a vital encounter for all who experience it. And your support helps to keep it viable.

On #GivingTuesday, I’m focusing on what Camp de Benneville Pines has given to me (and I’ve made a special gift to support the Annual Fund). I wonder what it has given to you?

If you’re grateful, take a moment to share what camp has given to you (after you make your own gift to support Camp’s Annual Fund). We’d love to hear your story. Right now donations are being matched dollar-for-dollar.

Wishing you a peaceful holiday season,


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  1. […] hope you received my email yesterday that shared a beautiful photo of the calm before the storm at Thanksgiving […]

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