They said the drive to Nebraska and Jumping Tandem: The Retreat would be long and boring. They were wrong.
A week ago I’d messaged my prayer warriors, “I’m having a little trouble holding it together right now. Could use a little glue prayer.”
And they were on it like bees on crabapple blossoms. One sister even messaged back, “Oh God, you are Lord over rubber cement, J&B Weld, Modge Podge, various spray adhesives, and every horse that ever gave its life so that our kids could attach different types of pasta to construction paper and say it was the Mona Lisa. Abba, we beg you to use whatever type of glue You think would work best to keep Sandra in one piece. If there are any breaks or leaks that You want us sisters to treat with our tissue paper and liquid starch papier mache skills, please make that clear to us. We stand at the ready to love all of Sandra’s pieces back together again.”
She made me laugh. I couldn’t do life without my Frio Sisters.
Or my Facebook friends. Where else can you lasso up a whole herd in a heartbeat, friends you’ve never met skin-to-skin but who will stampede the throne with only a story sliver? I confessed I’d been slashed by another’s words (warranted–or not) and as hurtful as that was, I was more hurt by my response–that I’d returned fire.
Now angry texts were coming through again, slicing sharp as Cutco knives.
Though it was cloudy, I slipped on sunglasses and turned my head so D wouldn’t see the rivers leaking down my cheeks. I messaged my sisters again. Then, knowing they were praying, I focused on the passing scenery–mesmerized by fresh-plowed fields, green paths, rivers, hills, and farmsteads. My spirit felt lighter with each mile.
It was the longest car trip we’d taken alone in years. Just what we needed.
And when we arrived at the Carol Joy Holling Retreat Center, grace surrounded me. Words of affirmation greeted me everywhere–even scribbled on bathroom mirrors. I heard messages of grace through sisters who are still living messy stories, who are still in progress. And how can we judge–because aren’t we all still in progress? And shouldn’t we share even these stories? Because we’re all on the journey together, and we can all hold each other together.
John encouraged me to learn to bear the burden of my nouns gracefully, and he read poetry in his quiet voice and made me want to write more.
I was reminded of how much easier it is to extend grace to others than ourselves (yeah, I get that one), and Michelle reassured me that grace is the infinite do-over.
I joined a meditative night walk, with only the light of the moon to guide us in the dark. I worshipped and stretched with Holy Yoga early Saturday morning. I received wise counsel for some decisions I need to make, was encouraged in a new writing project, laughed (In the darkest period of your life, find the funny, said Amanda), and cried. Oh, and this Laura gave me a penny whistle and a lesson.
The other Laura led us in worship and communion Sunday. She told the stories of the Samaritan woman and the adulterous woman and the sinful woman and implored us to remember that we need to see beyond labels to hearts, to be places of refuge for others, that often when we give grace, we get wounded. Oh, and that grace precedes transformation.
We’re home now. Nothing here has changed. Except the crabapples are in full bloom.
And I’ve got this song on repeat.
In the stillness,