Thursday, August 1, 2019

"first we fold in, then open out...."

"first we fold in,
then open out;
there is a faith
that's only found in doubt..."

This post did not start as an idea clothed in words. It started as a feeling. And then a name. Carrie Newcomer. So I went to Youtube and pulled up Carrie's station. The title,  "The Point of Arrival," gave words to the feeling. So I listened to the song -- which I'd never heard before. Yes. That was it. The feeling now had a sound, and a shape.

Now for the words. I woke up this morning and it was the feeling of kicking a ball that came to me. Now this is quite funny. For one thing, it is because I don't have any relationship to balls -- soccer balls, baseballs, basketballs. As a child I was ball-averse. I very much disliked anything that had to do with balls.

It wasn't till our daughters became soccer, volleyball, and Polocrosse athletes that I saw any reason to change my relationship to balls of any sport. And, at best, it was a distant relationship. One of an observer with a foreign object that seemed to have no purpose other than to come hurtling through space at you -- at random speeds.

So for me to wake up with the feeling of kicking a ball was actually quite arresting. So, as I do with all strange feelings, I sat with it. Thought about it. Plumbed it for some spiritual meaning.

Carrie's song helped me find what I was listening for. It is a paradox. One of my favorite things about being a conscious being, is being able to recognize a paradox and ponder it deeply.

This morning's paradox is all about the motion of kicking a ball forward. One has to drawn back the foot, in order to add velocity and distance. If you try to kick a ball from a straight leg, stationary, starting point it doesn't have near the speed, precision, or trajectory. Try it.

I have been praying about the hundreds of young men and women who will soon be leaving summer camps for the next legs of their life journey. I have heard some version of trepidation in their individual and collective voices. "I feel safe here. What if I'm not as funny, selfless, purposeful, focused when I leave here? What if I get too busy to read Scripture? What if I forget how it feels to pray?"

This concern is filled with a desire.  And it voices itself as either a desire stay longer in the place they are in, or to not have to "go back" to the life that they left before summer began -- to return to towns, friendships, school settings where they did not feel that they had previously been as kind or spiritually confident as they have been at camp.

I understand this feeling. I am feeling it too. This summer has been all about God's trajectory for my life. I have said, "yes," to opportunities that in other years I might have found a way to sidestep. In some instances I have returned to places where I'd made grave mistakes in the past -- in order to find peace and resolution. In other instances I have stepped back from my personal preferences -- for example: I like dry air and cool night, I like familiarity, I want to be near my dogs -- in order to walk forward into opportunities that were completely without a roadmap.

For those of you who are natural adventurers this might seem like a walk in the park. For me, a spiritual homebody, it was like waking up from that dream.  You know, the one where you have gone to school in your pajamas - and then realized it wasn't a dream. You actually are in math class and everyone is whispering about your flannel nightie.

But what I have been feeling today - as I've embraced this adventure - is the feeling of kicking a ball. Each time I have drawn back -- whether it is to return to a place I need to find redemption and healing in, or from my sense of personality, I am moving forward into the next moment with greater freedom, purpose, strength, and precision. Each time I have folded in and dealt with a past mistake or a deep fear of the unknown -- I open out with a new grace.

And in that motion, there is an almost imperceptible pause between the drawing back, and the moving forward. An immeasurable, timeless moment where I feel God's presence and power. It is as if, for a quadtrillisecond, there is an absolute stillness filled with peace - just before I am sent forward into the next moment - of being at play in the fields of the Lord.

This post may not make any sense to you. I am sorry if that is the case. Perhaps, I am writing it for the sole purpose of watching the feeling take shape in words. I don't know if writing this is a drawing back, the sweet pause, or the hurtling forward. But I know I am feeling God-sent this morning.

Each camper and counselor, in every camp around the world, who has spent time in servant leadership and spiritual self-discovery will soon return - be drawn back into - schools, friendships, towns, families where they will be poised for the pause -- and then they will be sent forward into a world so ready for the young men and women they have become. "Children" who are wiser, gentler, less self-focused, more intentional. And we will all be better for their summer of vision and service.

offered with Love,


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