Church Retreat Blues

It’s been a crappy week on multiple fronts.  Oh, it had some ups. We celebrated a birthday and finished a newly landscaped chicken coop nice enough to make Martha Stewart quiver with envy.  Valentine’s Day was in there, but to tell the truth, I consider it a fake holiday trumped up by a dark deal between the greeting card, candy, and carnation conglomerate. Lent began the same day; I imagine the Lord got a kick out of that.   It was a three-day school week that lasted about a month.

Saturday morning found me mentally and emotionally exasperated.  I so didn’t have my head in our scheduled vestry retreat for church that it didn’t even occur to me to take my Bible.  What’s vestry, you ask?  It’s an elected organizational body of our church, kind of the student council of St. Paul’s, if you will.  I arrived in bike shorts and ball cap, clearly ready for other things.  My hair was slicked back in a coconut oil mask, a trick for baby-softness I picked up a few weeks ago, and my jaw was set.  I resented having to spend my morning cooped up talking about growing our church when our world is going to hell in a handbasket.

But there I was, and I knew that what I didn’t feel in positivity, I could make up for in productivity.  “Get busy, and the gettin’ happy will take care of itself,” Mama Opal used to say.  I wish I would’ve written down all the wisdom she had to offer.  It would’ve done me much good.  My mind raced, reeling from the horrors of the carnage on what should have been hallowed ground.  I realized that my classroom-turned-office has no alternate exit.  The windows are immovable and hurricane-proofed.  Even if I could break the glass and scramble out, I’d be exposed on a rooftop with no easy way down.  I have nowhere to run, but I’ve been thinking hard about a good place to hide.

Let that sink in.  I’m plotting, no actually planning, a way to hide in case the next one hits home.  What do I want?  I want to feel safe at a cussword school, for crying out loud.  I want the peace of mind to reasonably expect safety for my children at their school.  I want, God help us, to be armed with something more than a paperweight and a 3 prong hole puncher.  What I want is a fighting chance should I have to face evil down.

So, there I sat in a church retreat wading my way through all the emotional white noise of anger, fear, and futility when the priest asked us to engage in an immersive meditation on the apostles growing the young church.  It was a great sensory exercise that would’ve been awesome if I weren’t in such a crotchety disposition.  How crotchety, you ask?  Instead of focusing on the new Christians, I imagined myself a Roman Centurion trying to determine when to “do something” about the upstarts.

“Do something” is a phrase we’ve all heard a lot this week. I went into the church retreat with my butt on my shoulder, frustrated and questioning whether my “something” is powerless.  I came out of the retreat with renewed conviction and determination to run the race set before me.  What can I do?

  • I can pray AND I can be proactive as well as prepared.
  • I can refuse to sacrifice my liberty by cowering beneath the “what ifs”.
  • I can hold to my convictions while respecting yours, even when we disagree.
  • I can carry myself with the assuredness that good will prevail over evil.

Author’s Note:  This post reflects my reactions to an incident I find reprehensible.  I do not purport to have the answers, but trace an outline of how I process and reconcile my personal experiences within the social constructs I inhabit.   You may have very different reactions, feelings, and opinions. That’s okay.

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