[Thoughts from the conference where I'll be this week: Writing and the Pastoral Life. I'm in rural Minnesota, at St. John's University and Abbey]
"We assume that you're all great writers or you wouldn't be here. You have been carefully chosen because we at the Institute believe you have something to say, and we want to give you the space to say it."
Those were some of the opening remarks made to us at our orientation last night. We were told that the twelve of us were selected from a large number of applications. Well, that's enough to give a girl a big head.
But more than that, it's enough to give a girl (or guy) a sense of purpose. I'm a Presbyterian-- one of our big things is that God calls us to things. Certainly I've been called by God to be a minister (because...ummm...well... that wasn't my plan!) But the idea that someone else senses a purpose for you gives, at least me, a kick in the pants.
The idea that someone believes that I have something worth saying, something that I should be putting out in to the world is more than I have yet been able to believe. It might be the answer to the prayer I've never had the courage to pray-- and it terrifies me. It humbles me. And it makes me dream.
"Graceland" is the name of my favorite song and album. It's by Paul Simon, but more importantly, it's what "home" sounds and feels like to me. We always listened to this album as we traveled from my home in Tennessee to my parents' childhood homes in Florida. But today, it's also a pretty good snapshot of my theology. Somewhere I really believe that the Christian journey is all about a wild trip to Grace-land. As I see it, Grace-land is the place where God is waiting to meet even us–with all the baggage and brokeness that we tote with us. Grace-land is the place where we will be received with open arms, even though our attempts at “getting it right” have been miserable failures at best. But, I think, every step we take is a step on the journey to Graceland.