Friday, April 24, 2015

The Path Turns

OK, here’s the deal.  It’s been a whirlwind of a week.  I  had back-to-back retreats; beginning with a Kidquake with over 140 people, most of them in elementary school then zooming to an adult spirituality retreat with five other people, half of them clergy.  I had less than 24 hours in between the two.  Oh, and I had a cold.

The last night of Kidquake we had a storm and it knocked out the power to the camp.  Luckily enough it happened after the kids had gone to bed in cabins waaay off across the campgrounds. I was over in the main lodge with the staff and it was just about the biggest non-event I’ve ever seen.  The lights went off. And—poof!!—nothing happened.  No sounds of alarm, no shrieks, no cursing.  Nothing.  If I hadn’t heard a couple of soft conversations down the hall, I would have sworn I was the only person in camp.
The following day was just as quiet.  The kitchen ladies figured out they could produce coffee using the camp’s propane grill by heating the water and pouring it through the grounds and filter. The camp manager went out to MacDonalds for a take out order.  I can only imagine what the Gilmer, Texas MacDonald's did when faced with an order for 150 sausage and biscuits.

We soon discovered that we didn't really need electricity for most of what we did. There was plenty of light from the windows.  For our Sunday morning worship we only had to eliminate the recorded music and bid goodbye to the energizers :(  We sang songs everyone knew the words to,  accompanied by an acoustic guitar.  Jesus showed up as always.  And the kids realized that we really weren’t inconvenienced by not having power. They were a very mellow group.

The only major excitement in the loss of electricity was how little excitement it brought.

I went home to catch up on sleep. Then I went right back the following morning for a retreat that could only be described as the exact opposite:  A small group of adults led by a gentle and soft-spoken Mennonite pastor on Spiritual Direction. 

I didn’t really know as much about the retreat as I thought I did. And the most embarrassing part is that this was the second time I've been to it without really understanding what it was.   

I signed up for it thinking it would be a cool time to chill out with some spiritual folks. And I kind of thought that's what we did the last time.  I did NOT know the thing was part of a two-year commitment.  I did NOT know there would be homework. OK, I guess I did know about the assignments but what I didn't know was that I really had to do it.  I did NOT know that after the whole thing was over I would end up as a Certified Spiritual Director.  To be honest, I never even  knew what one of those people is. I'm still not even sure I know that yet.  And I most certainly did NOT know that I would have to learn how to listen, really LISTEN, to other people in a way I had never done in my life.

I have never been much on Listening.  I’ve mostly been a Talker all my life.  I find myself fascinating with a huge amount of interesting things to say so I spend a lot of time spreading this wisdom around the world. You might say that Listening is not my natural talent.  So I had to think hard about all of this. 

I have a little rule of thumb:  Whenever I'm confronted by something that is clearly a thing I never in a million years would have cooked up on my own, I figure it must have come from God.  Especially if it's hard.

After a good night’s sleep I decided God would not have played such a dastardly trick on me for no reason.  I decided to go with the flow.  I made a commitment to read the assignments and do the homework.  I will try this Listening thing. We’ll see what happens.  I will try this even though it sounds really hard. I feel like my life is about to have a major change.  That's partly why the blog is so late this week.  I'm not sure what I think about all this.

I don’t have any more words.  Give me an excused absence if you could, please—I’m going to go think spiritual thoughts and read my assignment.
PS- They had a Jesus doll at Kidquake.  I’ve decided I want one.

Then I found out they are hand-made by a lady in Ohio and cost $65.  For some of us, Jesus comes at great cost.

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