There are two kinds of adventurers: those who go truly hoping to find adventure and those who go secretly hoping they won’t.
(William Least Heat-Moon in Blue Highways: A Journey into America)
For many years I have gone on little adventures; just a few days away by myself, mostly no farther than a day’s drive. It is a time to hear the sound of my own thoughts, take a break from schedules and experience things that my family is not interested. Beginning with the very first one, I got lost. It totally stressed me out. This was before in-car navigation and cell phones. All I had was an awkward, too-large-for-the-front-seat paper map. I finally found my way to the hotel after navigating road closures, detours and rain. I dried off, took a breath and then was delighted when I found the hotel bar featured a string quartet that evening. I was able to let go.
Ever since that first trip, I now look forward to the moment when I am lost. It happens every time I travel. It is part of the adventure! So now when it happens, usually at night and/or in the rain, I have a moment when I literally say out loud to myself, “Here it is.” I embrace that part of the trip like every other part. For me it is a way to relinquish control, albeit reluctantly.
After all these years of adventures I have learned that getting lost means that I will also be found. And learning that being found does not happen in the way I imagine.
· Sometimes I do it alone.
· Sometimes I ask for help.
· Sometimes I end up somewhere unexpected.
· Sometimes I easily fall back into my plan.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the confidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to. (Miracle on 34th Street)
At some point we all have lost; our way, joy, laughter, hope, our voice, love. This is the reality of being human. The other reality is that we are created for community. When we are lost, we are not alone. (Although sometimes it feels that way.) Because we are in community, we will be found.
How do I know? Because I have confidence in all the good that is unseen.
Because I believe when common sense tells me not to. I have faith.
And when my faith wavers, you have faith for me.
We are always found.
I just came home from the Institute of Liturgical Studies held at Valparaiso University in Indiana. It is a 3-day conference which focuses generally on worship and specifically on Proclamation of the Word through preaching, song, and teaching; and how the Work of the People (the liturgy) informs, grows and strengthens our faith for our work in the world. It is a wonderfully thick and profound three days.
This year the theme was: Table of Thanksgiving: How the Eucharistic Forms Us. As always, the plenary speakers and workshop facilitators were thoughtful and helpful. Each year I take home something to use in my work at church. This year was strange since I do not have church work (at the moment) to immediately apply my learnings. I still took notes and got resources to store away in my toolbox. My immediate learning this year was deeply personal.
I experienced many moments of pure grace. These are two that are still with me.
· A friend greeted me with a hug, looked me in the eye and said, “How are you doing in this in-between time?” So many times, we do not want to make reference to someone’s pain. It can be uncomfortable. And yet if we are willing to risk discomfort, we can transcend the surface relationship and be truly human with one another. Just him asking the question was enough.
· During one of the refreshment breaks, a fond acquaintance asked how life was recently. I answered, “It has been difficult.” He said, “Yes, for me too.” He asked about me and then told me that his companion died during Holy Week after multiple cancer diagnoses. We sat knee to knee in a crowded conference room quietly listening to each other – to all that was said and unsaid. It was a holy moment saturated in mutual vulnerability.
When we are the Body of Christ together, there is no hierarchy of pain or grief. We are simply one – together. It struck me that at a conference titled: How Eucharist Forms Us; I experienced over and over again the concrete reality of that formation. As a post communion prayer states, “After now receiving the Body of Christ, send us out to be the Body of Christ for the world.”
This is what I experienced: the best of what church (the Body of Christ) can be. This is what will sustain me until I can get out my tool box and use it again.
On my own journey as a dabbling artist, a lover of stories,