Road Trip Redux . . .


Today is a travel day . . .

I usually enjoy long drives from one place to another.

No, not the traffic, the stiff knee, the cost of gas, or the inching along past unexpected construction in the “middle of nowhere.”   I don’t particularly care for the billboards and other signs of our commercialized society.  The food is often bland, overpriced, and pretty much what I can get at home.

. . .  However, I do so enjoy the feeling of movement and the opportunity to reflect.  When I am driving, I have only two jobs:  keep everyone safe and get to our destination reasonably close to when we are expected.

As long as I do that, my time is my own.  This is a luxury to be treasured and used.

I will have the luxury of being able to reflex on a great, if furiously paced week.  Here are some of the themes I have lined up for my drive:

. . . The beauty and hospitality of Nashville, Tennessee. 

Forget the humid and hot weather, this city is a fun place to visit.  Good food, great music, and some of the friendliest people in the world.    Not without “warts”, such as a large anti-Muslim group, but a lovely place to spend time.

 . . . The leadership of Sharon Watkins and Juan Rodriguez, among many others.

Sharon became our denominational leader at a time of great challenge, great pain, and great uncertainty.  Her spirit-filled and steady guidance has earned her another term and a great deal of loyalty.  The challenges remain and even some pain, but the uncertainty that we are moving forward is gone.

Juan has that unique ability to create spiritual experiences for thousands of people using two things:  a lovely voice and a heart of pure love.  Juan’s humming of various well-known tunes and his leading us into and out of sessions will stay with me.

They are not the only leaders of the church – many others contributed their time and talents to make this week rock!

It is sometimes said that when you place 12 Disciples in a room to discuss some issue, you are dealing with least 13 different positions:)   This is true, but we are also blessed with some excellent clergy and lay leadership.

. . . Seeing old friends.

Friends from places we used to live in other times, people who will always share part of our hearts.  It’s a kick catching up and learning how life has been, seeing their children grown up, and even their children’s children.

. . . Seeing former colleagues.

Visiting with former colleagues about work, life, and the future.  I have always said that working in faith-based organizations is different and I have had that privilege twice in my life.  Those who work in the organizations that are devoted to doing the good and hard work of helping others in need, usually display a very high level of mission orientation.  We’re not in it for the money:)

The workplace bonds formed in mission-based and faith-based organziations are strong.

. . . Meeting new friends.

Meeting new friends from around the globe who share visions and dreams, if not always language.  Sometimes it’s as simple as glancing at a name tag, noticing a place, and saying “I know where you are from”.  I stay amazed at the coincidental connections that arise out of conversations with “strangers”.

. . .  the collegial and spirit-filled atmosphere.

The sheer fun of being around people of various ages and gender orientation, who come from different cultures, states, environments, and backgrounds, with the entire gamut of the “socio-economic status” scale, with varying interpretations of what it means to live as a Christian . . . and who are open, friendly, and just plain nice.

Having a shared sense of who we are and where we are going is a somewhat rare and very valuable commodity.

 I’ve been to many conventions as a participant, a planner, and a worker.  This one beats them all.

Well, that’s my reflection plan for the day . . . that and a lot of coffee:)

Hitting the road in the Heartland . . .

John