[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]
I feel like I should say something, anything for that matter. After all, I've been at a conference about writing-- about WORDS! for crying out loud. I've prayed with the monks, and feasted with my colleagues, both on so much food, and more satisfyingly on collegiality. I've been inspired, both by the setting and by the stories, told both formally and in little "pods" of conversation along the way. I've met the sunrise, and I've felt the wind blow through the open-air chapel by the lake.
But something has blown through me too. A need. A desire. A thirst. A fear. A hope. A word. I leave carrying more than I brought: books, and mugs, and folders... and ideas and hopes and dreams. Not everything will fit in my now-too-small suitcase, and it, like my brain, is now overstuffed. I'll make a clumsy traveler, but no one will be able to find fault with all the things I've grabbed ahold of to take home.
So here I am at the last day, and the view is spectacular. Not just of a last look at a lake, but of a last look...for now, anyway, at my colleagues who will certainly do great things. The view is also a look forward, to the plane that will return me to my beloved, to a life that I might now dare to find.
"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.