I am not the best at reflection. I am more of a plunge forward continually until I exhaust myself and find myself crying for no apparent reason, kind of person. I have watched Emily P. Freeman do a quarterly reflection blog for every season for quite some time now, and I thought I would give this a go. Here are 7 things I have learned this summer in no particular order.
“It’s not the experience that brings transformation, it’s our reflection upon our experience.”Jan Johnson
1. History doesn’t equal intimacy.
As much as I hate to admit given my loyalist tendencies, a long history of friendship doesn’t equal true friendship. It is the people who know me now, my pain, hopes and dreams today, and not the frozen-in-time version of who I was a decade ago that I would call my closest friends. History can be deceiving however for both parties because it mimics closeness through longevity but it’s very possible to be friends with someone for 20 years, and not actually know them. Because knowing someone takes work; it takes asking questions and listening. It refuses to settle for the Cliff Note’s and reads the whole novel. It leans into the mystery of personhood that is ever emerging and changing and asks, “Who are you now?”.
2. I can address God as Mother and not be struck with lightning.
It has come to the attention of many of my dear friends the feminine void we all grew up within the church. For years, women have had to translate the maleness of God into their world and have done so faithfully, and without question. But as I have pressed deeper into their ponderings, I too see that though we all agree that God is genderless, the male was chosen to present the Godhead in a culture that was primarily patriarchal. It was for a purpose but not to be preeminent. “Let us make man into our own image, male AND female”. God is transcendence and not bound by gender. So when I pray to Mother God, there is no lightning bolt, only a connection that has long been missing.
3. Packing light is the best for travel and life.
I am a self-proclaimed over-packer and confess, I have packed items like my essential oil diffuser overseas with me! The problem is, I often regret packing too much and this was certainly the case when we traveled to Costa Rica this summer. By the end of the trip, after lugging around a huge suitcase and 20 lb carry-on, I didn’t even wear half of my clothes because of the humidity! I want to be prepared for anything but when I pack according to my anxiety, I am simply unable to manage the load. Packing light doesn’t mean I have to leave behind the items I feel will provide a sense of security, it simply means I may need to do a load of laundry at the Airbnb.
4. The best rice and beans recipe. (Traditional Costa Rican Recipe)
Upon arriving in Costa Rica, we quickly discovered that it wasn’t as cheap as we thought especially when it came to eating out. Luckily our Airbnb had a great little kitchen and we both enjoy cooking. So we looked up a few traditional dishes, pour some rum over ice with fresh lime, and had a blast cooking together. Click here to learn how to make Gallo Pinto!
5. In a drought, there is more land to walk on.
We spend almost every Saturday morning out in the Columbia Gorge exercising our dog at Rooster Rock Park. It’s absolutely gorgeous and Ingrid gets to chased sticks and swim, which are her two favorite things. Just as summer was ending, we heading out there and to our surprise, the tide was so far out, we were able to venture onto the little island that is always surrounded by the overflowing river. It felt like we walked for miles before we reached the bank of the Columbia River. The water was cool and clear, and the view was even more spectacular! We often associate dry land with barrenness or droughts, but it could be that God is making a way for us to walk on new land.
6. Desire is easier to buried than it is to banish.
I have been in counseling for two years now to help my soul navigate and heal from the years of infertility. I have had to wrestle with tremendous grief, feelings of shame, and fickle desire. For a long period, I doubted if I even wanted children anymore, believing I was ready to move on but the resentfulness I felt towards others having children was a clue, this desire wasn’t going anywhere. Over time the desired returned. Slowly at first, and then like a dam breaking, all I wanted to do was hold a baby in my arms. Anyone’s baby, I didn’t care whose. God heard my prayer and our good friends with their new baby came into town just a few weeks after the dam broke, and I got to hold her baby for hours. It felt amazing and the desire that had been buried under so much grief began to show its shoots.
7. Creators need creating communities.
I joined a writing workshop at the beginning of summer with Sacred Ordinary Days. It was a little over a month-long with large and small groups formats, writing assignments, and opportunities to share our work. It was so encouraging and really helped get the creative juices flowing. Although my small group has not to stay connected over the busy summer, it was good to find a moment to connect with other creatives who are actively doing the work, being vulnerable, and braving forward in their stories. Because when it comes to mustering up the courage to step into our callings, a cheerleader on the sidelines is helpful but more often than not, we need someone on the field we can throw to. And I got to play catch with some pretty amazing creatives this summer!