sun, and grace

September 8, 2013

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For 6 days I have prayed fervently for sun. The rain has been falling steadily, confining us to buildings that grow increasingly chilly as the wetness cools the air. This is not a place accustomed to cold, so structures [and people, for that matter] are simply not equipped to handle it. Winter is generally so mild that there is no such thing as central heating. And certainly, September does not count as winter . . . not usually. But this past week has been a steady deluge without our usual sun-breaks, and without any relief from the chill in the air. Winter coats, hats, and scarves have appeared as general attire.
I know how I feel about the cold. But for some reason I thought I had gotten a bit wiser in my old age: a bit more patient about waiting it out. This week threw me for a loop, though: I could feel my mood darkening by the day, and a sense of panic setting in—an irrational fear that this was it, and that the sun I had grown to love so much in this home was gone forever. What if the tectonic plates have shifted and from now on our climate was going to be forever cold and wet? [yeah, I know–tectonic plates have nothing to do with climate but, hey, I have a point to prove!].
It was humbling to realize how externally motivated my sense of well-being can be, especially as this week has also included significant work challenges, demanding much of my professional resources on any given day.
This weekend we had our annual staff retreat. Envisioning a weekend spent at an outdoor center in this revived my sense of panic, so my prayers were amped up a bit. I called on extra prayers, in fact, recruiting my mother and a friend to pray with me. But the morning of our departure did not look promising, in the slightest. As the day wore on, however, it grew oddly warm. There was still nothing resembling true sunshine but it was pleasant enough that three of us decided we would spend all our free time outside regardless. I think we were like-minded in our feelings about this past week because as we romped around the lake, we all grew giddy, acting much like the little ones we spend our days with. Eventually we had the inspiration to break out a phone and have a little cell phone dance party. We were dancing to an odd choice of tunes, though, since my playlist consists largely of hymns and folk tunes. It worked for us, though. We raised our hands to the sky and laughed as the sun broke through the clouds.
It was, in all respects, a beautiful day. And the weekend as a whole left me heart-filled with a sense of family. Our theme for the weekend was that we were working towards being, and becoming, a community of grace.
This morning we had a closing session. In my small group of four, I confessed my feelings over this past week, using that as an example of a way in which I would like to grow more in a grace-filled approach to my work community and not just eke my way through the days. As I talked, though, I realized something. One at the table said that she had felt the same way about the week, and I suggested that maybe part of being a grace-filled community is have grace for our humanity: our own and that of each other. What if we all are weak-willed, flesh-driven souls striving together in a quest for something greater than ourselves? If that is the truth, then what more can we do, on some days, that simply step forward together, leaning on each other in our baby steps?

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