Friday, September 18, 2009

the need for urban retreat

Last week was tough. September is always insane, and this year I thought I was more ready than usual for the onslaught. Apparently not.

School term shifts dynamics for everyone, even if your only experience is a lengthened commute, life is different. This of course is the real new year for anyone in the northern hemisphere of the developed world, Jan doesn't count. As a youthworker with kids, I get double impact, along with teachers and anyone else that works with school terms. Holiday vibe ends and every project that took back seat rushes forward, every meeting that hasn't quite taken place becomes urgent, every event that needs to be organized is suddenly behind schedule, and every young person in the world is plunged into school mode which rocks them and their parents for at least a couple of weeks, until the new rhythm is found.

We had the added dynamic of Joel starting elementary school and Ollie starting preschool which has had a bigger emotional toll than we expected. Last week the reponsibility of these dynamics overwhelmed me and quite simply put me into meltdown: I wanted to run away. Andy suggested a day of retreat away from it all to hang out with God, get some good perspective and input. As I thought about this and looked at the calendar I realized I had the perfect opportunity to head not out of town, but into it: to head downtown and simply be. I type this in a coffee shop in the centre of this most wonderful of cities; I come here to breathe, to watch, to listen, to allow God to speak into my life, to encourage and envision me, and to dwell.

I know we're all wired differently: some of you totally understand this and some can think of nothing worse. Mother Theresa said "We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence."  She was and is one of the most inspirational people on the planet, but on that one we disagree.  God for sure is the friend of silence, and Elijah had an amazing "still small voice" moment, but is God really restricted to that?

I love Vancouver deeply, I am so glad and privileged to call this city home, and as I 'randomly' run into the mom of one of the youth I baptized a few weeks ago, as I watch the beautiful young adults of the city cruise around so full of stuff (and yet so devoid of real life), as I listen in on some bizarre conversations around me in the coffee shop, I am spoken to by God, I am recharged and refreshed, envisioned. It's going to be OK.

I know that soon we will all settle down and see September in a better light: it's about more than survival, it's about life in all it's fullness. Some wise guy said it right once in John 10:10, and I'm looking forward to regaining some amazing life, to surf the wave rather than get dragged into the white water.

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