Rarely in my life do I have moments when events with significantly diverse elements happen simultaneously. The anticipation of one event filled me with anxiety while the anticipation of the other filled me with hope and excitement. The result? A realization of how I am so often caught in my fears, along with how vital beauty and wonder, and what might even be considered luxury, is to this walk of faith in a broken world.
The eldest boy’s hockey team had a tournament in St Louis this weekend, the same weekend a conference was happening which I eagerly had been awaiting since April. My very gracious husband planned to take all the children to the tournament, leaving me free to completely enjoy my conference. This was the plan and it was great.
Until the harsh reality of our brokenness shouted for attention in St. Louis. The weekend was dubbed The Weekend of Resistance in protest of police violence after the shooting death of Michael Brown. Another young man was shot on Wednesday leading up to the weekend. Tempers were flaring and the violence of our world was on display.
The call for protests led to anxiety for this mama. I began to make alternative plans for my weekend, trying to find ways to keep the younger three children home. Trying to pull in close those I hold dear and protect them from what I anticipated would be a violent and unpredictable weekend. The riots surrounding Rodney King happened during my college graduation weekend; memories fueled my fear. The first game was 10 pm on a Friday night, only 10 miles from Ferguson. Ugh.
The first game was 10 pm on a Friday night, only 10 miles from Ferguson. Ugh.
My much calmer husband was not worried. He was aware and planning alternate routes to keep out of the fray, but he was not worried as the ice rinks were not in St Louis proper. The final decision was to stick to the original plan. And ultimately I trust his wisdom and I prayed and sent them off.
My conference, called Hutchmoot, is a conglomeration of artists and musicians and creative souls alongside those of us who appreciate the art and music and beauty. An intentionally small gathering, desiring to lean in toward God and His stirring. Leaning in toward those things that are beautiful we hope to be changed, being ignited and refreshed with the incommunicable grace of community.
In the midst of what has been a rather chaotic life lately, this weekend brought refreshment. There was music and storytelling, art in the decorations and all around, and amazing food which brought it all together with feasting.
Steve’s weekend was filled with avoiding violence born of our brokenness. People desiring to be heard and understood and spilling over into anger and frustration, clashing with those who are trying to reign in the violence and keep order to our lawlessness. Plus, Steve had to contend with a sick 3 year old and Zach had some food poisoning thrown in on Saturday evening. Still…they survived despite all my fears. They encountered none of the violence I anticipated. Zachary was able to do what he loves, and do it well. They were weary and ready to be home by Sunday afternoon, but happy and content.
I almost missed something significant, however, because I focused on what-ifs. I almost missed a weekend of new friendships, of challenges to open my eyes and see more (more than just what frightens me? ). I almost missed seeing Luci Shaw who had encouraged my soul 13 years ago at Regent; almost missed conversations with her that again encouraged my soul.
I almost missed the call of Welcome Home which stirred in me desires for our home. Stirred in me desires for my children. Stirred wonder and excitement. Stirred hope.
Honestly, this weekend was close to luxury. When I registered I was one of the lucky few able to get a ticket, and I wondered at the time why I needed this. The fact is, I have been more weary than I thought and I needed this more than I knew.
The fear drawn out by the hockey tournament’s location and timing showed me how much I am caught by fear. How often I miss good things because I am so focused on the brokenness and the unknown. The brokenness and the unknown are always there; the wonder and richness of home help us walk in the midst without fear.
The luxury of the weekend was not luxury…it was necessity. Necessary in this moment to refocus and refresh. Necessary to remind me of how wonder and beauty and love push out the fear and the anxiety, leaving room for life to happen. Grace to happen. I almost walked away from a weekend that was a gift.
At the coffee shop on Sunday morning Over The Rhine’s song Called Home came up in my playlist. Fitting, isn’t it?
Just shy of Breakin’ Down
There’s a bend in the road that I have found
Take a left at loneliness
There’s a place to find forgiveness
With clouds adrift across the sky
Like heaven’s laundry hung to dry
You slowly feel it all will be revealed
Where evening shadows come to fall
On the awful and the beautiful
Every wound you feel that needs to heal
And silence yearns to hear herself
Some long lost memory rings a bell
Old pre-Civil War brick house
Standin’ tall and straight somehow
Mailbox full of weariness
And a word of hard won happiness
Leave behind your Sunday best
You know we couldn’t care a less
Out here we’ve learned to leave the edges wild
And stories they get passed around
And laughter – it gets handed down
Read it in the lines around a smile
Our bodies’ motion comes to rest
When we are at last