"I'm going to live my life inspired
Look for the holy in the common place
Open the windows and feel
all that's honest and real
Until I'm truly amazed
I'm going to feel all my emotions
I'm going to look you in the eyes
I'm going to listen and hear
Until it's finally clear
and it changes our lives
There are so many ways to hide
There are so many ways not to feel
There are so many ways to deny
what is real
And I just showed up for my own life
And I'm standing here taking it in
and it sure looks bright...
Oh the glory of God is man fully alive..."
- Sara Groves
Yes, it is another Sara Groves' song. And this one, "I just showed up for my own life," seems to say what is in my heart tonight...and it says it all so joyfully.
For the past year I have been trying to live out from this spiritual concept - just show up in the "how" of being, and see what God has planned. Each day I try to make only one choice....to see God as All-in-all, the only truth and to ground myself in this space. This standpoint allows me to say, "Yes!" to whatever opportunities present themselves as long as they fit within the focus of my larger spiritual purpose. Which brings me to this weekend. I was invited to support a spirituality-based teen activity...and I said, "Yes!"
I didn't know how it was going to turn out, or what it would feel like, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I arrived on Friday afternoon and Sacramento was socked in with rain and fog. But I wasn't there for sunshine, I was there to be present and available to whatever God was bringing into my life. Walking out of the terminal I was greeted by the joyful Jen Dale. Happy, vibrant, full of spiritual energy, and on purpose herself, she was a gift of girl friendship I didn't even realize I needed that day.
After a few errands (including a stop at the remarkable Dorado chocolates in adorable downtown Grass Valley) we headed up the mountain to meet our group at the Lodge we would be staying at. Jen and I talked about God, spiritual healing, the common love we share for teens, and our hopes for the weekend and its intended purpose. Within the first half hour we discovered that our expected two hour drive, was going to be anything but.
A blizzard-like storm blanketed Route 80 in heavy wet snow. And before long, we were stopped absolutely still for two hours while an accident was cleared from the road ahead of is. But we realized that even there, right in the middle of the highway, we were on purpose. And so was our weekend. Whether we at the Lodge greeting teens or sitting in the car sharing our love for them and reveling in all the ways we shared a sense of purpose in reaching their hearts, we were having a Discovery Bound weekend. And so were the teens who were traveling in cars with chaperones, parents, and fellow DB participants. We weren't losing anything...time, opportunities, focus.
We arrived at the Lodge happy, and spiritually well-prepared. And so did each group of teens. They were joyous, eager, and had already begun their weekend of connecting on a deeply spiritual level....one that was full of fellowship and purpose.
We had all been living our Discovery Bound purpose right where we were...in cars, in a blizzard, with eachother. Without having even talked about the spiritual importance of "why" and "how," as the primary focus of our weekend, and ultimately, our lives (rather than being who, what, where, and when-driven) we had already begun walking the inspirational theme of our weekend.
So, here it is Sunday morning. I am at Tahoe, sitting in the "upperchamber" of a Ski Lodge while about 30 of our Discovery Bound participants...staff, counselors, parents, and teens...ski, sled, snowboard, play games, and study all around me. I've even gotten to play a few games of Bananagrams...so much fun!! Playing Bananagrams was like giving the child in me permission to play in the snow and giggle, while she put snow down the back her best friend's parka!! There is more than a few feet of deep powder blanketing each building, tree, and mountain in every direction I look, through the windows of the cavernous Lodge. It is a winter sport wonderland...a magical white playground for people who like to ski.
I wouldn't necessarily call myself a winter sports enthusiast. I like to skate. In fact, in high school, my sister and I were rather good on the little pond just below our carriage house. I loved spending entire days skating...from one bonfire to another...on the Raritan River. But skiing has never been high on my list of favorite activities. There, I have said it. I have voiced it publicly.
That doesn't mean that I can't ski, or that I am afraid of skiing. I actually know how to ski quite well. I just don't love it. And I figure, at the price of lift tickets these days, unless you absolutely love it, it is a phenomenal waste of one's resources...time, energy, the electricity it takes to run the lift, the $76 a day for a lift ticket... to really be wishing the whole time that you were inside the lodge sitting by a roaring fire with a new friend, a book, a journal, your knitting and a pen. But I digress... So why am I here? And if I don't really love to ski, how could this weekend be in line with my larger purpose. That's easy...I love teens. I love being with them. Hearing them talk and laugh, question and discover. I love walking this path with them as they explore their spiritual lives through extreme activities. So, it was a perfect fit. Even though it didn't seem like it earlier in the week.
When Jen asked me if I would like to come be with them, as a Christian Science practitioner, for this ski weekend, I didn't hesitate. Not even for a second. It didn't matter to me that it was skiing, or that it would be bitterly cold and that I own neither snow boots, hat, or suitable clothing. I would be on purpose no matter where I was or what was going on around me. I would show up and watch carefully to see what God had in store for all of us. And for me, that meant I would start where I always start...I'd study Scripture, pray, talk to kids, love them, and hopefully, let them know that no matter what they were going through, considering, or experiencing, I could assure them, with absolute confidence, "you are not alone...God is with you." I know because I've experienced His care, guidance, and the transformative power of His love to heal, on countless occasions in my own life..
For me, it didn't matter where I was, or what the weather report was screaming at me, about my capacity to have fun. I could have just as easily be sitting on the porch of Crowsnest at camp. It could have been a beautiful summer day in the Rockies...hummingbirds darting and hovering, the brooklet babbling, teens in bathing suits and board shorts playing frisbee on the lawn of Valerie Lodge...I am me, I am doing what I do and I LOVE it.
I think this is the reason why I have never taken a vacation or gone on holiday since I began this work. I love it. It has nothing to do with a self-inflated, false sense of responsibility. I am not a martyr denying myself happiness and joy. I am someone who loves what she does and doesn't really want to do anything else. I love taking my work wherever I go. I love taking calls and being available anytime day or night. I love being on a South African beach and having my cell phone ring and find that I am as ready for a call there, as I would be in my office. I love this work. And I just know that each of my colleagues, fellow Christian Science practitioners...spiritual healers...must feel just the same. For me, spiritual healing is all about how we think, live, speak, and engage with others...not who we know, where we live, what we drive, or when we get up or go to bed. I think it's why we make ourselves available, and and, for me, it's all about how...how, how, how....
I love the focus on "how" in Mary Baker Eddy's poem "Feed My Sheep":
"Shepherd show me how to go
O'er the hillside steep
How to gather
How to sow
How to feed Thy sheep..."
She doesn't ask God to show her who to go with, when to leave, what to take, or where the destination is...but how. For me, this "how" is defined by Eddy's definition of "Moral." in her how-to book for the spiritual thinker and healer:
"MORAL. Humanity, honesty, affection, compassion,
hope, faith, meekness, temperance."
It takes courage, but when we put treating eachother humanely, speaking our hearts honestly, sharing our affection wisely and generously, seeing ourselves, and others, through the lens of true compassion, approaching each moment filled with hope, trusting in the inherent goodness of others because we have faith in God as the only Cause and Creator, forgiving from the space of meekness, and acting temperately as we experience God's blessings, first...we are on such holy...happy...ground.
One of the boys just came up to the table where I am working and asked me if I was going to come out into the snow with them. I could see that he was worried that I wasn't having the fun he imagined I would be having, if only I didn't have to work. I turned to him with a big smile and said, I am having so much fun watching you, and praying, and talking to your friends, taking calls and writing that I will be perfectly happy right here.
But I could see he might still be feeling sorry for me. So I explained to him that I REALLY love what I do as much as he loves snowboarding. It is exciting, refreshing, joyful work for me. I told him that I have never wanted a day off in over twenty-five years because every second is such fun. I ended with, "I love you and your friends. I'm here, that's more than enough happiness and fun for me." His jaw dropped, then I could see that he got it. He leaned over and hugged me, tightened his boots, turned towards the stairs leading to the deck where his snowboard was waiting, and called over his shoulder, "Have fun!!"
I am. When I keep the "how" of living, thinking, speaking, and behaving in the forefront of thought...I am sure to have a wonderful time...always. Perhaps next winter, having a wonderful time will include an awakened love for skiing!!
Okay, I am back in St. Louis now and as I look back on my trip I am overwhelmed with gratitude. This past weekend, I had a truly wonderful time. Thank you Jen, Forrest, Johanna, Allison, Mark, Jacob, Nate, Jenny..and all my new Northern California Discovery Bound friends...you taught me so many new lessons about living in the "how"... and on purpose.
Kate Robertson, CS
and thanks to the Dale family...Bill, Wyatt, Ari, and Bill Sr....for your warm hospitality. And Bill, your photo is perfect!!
group photo by Nate Lillge 2010