Rest to Return {Seasons Weekend Spring}

Not long ago, we made the trek to DC for our 4th Seasons Weekend.  It was a lovely and restful weekend, in every way.  After the cold Winter, Spring had been delayed a bit, so we were just in time for the cherry blossoms in full-bloom everywhere. 

I grew up in DC, Alexandria to be exact.  My Dad pastored the First Baptist Church there for about 8 years when I was a child.  I had not been back since I interned on Capitol Hill one Summer in college, and in so many ways, it felt like going home.  I know growing up in the mix of kinetic energy and rich history that is uniquely DC was particularly influential in shaping who I am today.  It's always rich to re-experience places from your past as you get older, even richer in the context of a weekend like Seasons.

{***Seasons Summer is not far away and will be in Newport Beach, CA, near the water in Orange County, July 12-14.  There are some great group rate deals for this WONDERFUL event -- check it our here.  We would love to see you!}

The opportunity to share our story at Seasons continues to be an absolute blessing to us.  Many participants have come to multiple, if not all, the Seasons Weekends, so we've gained quite a camaraderie with them as well as with our fellow presenters.  We especially loved getting to know the wonderfully talented musician, Jason Gray, who was our musical guest, as well as spending time with my family, who was able to join us for the weekend.

As humans, it is essential for our bodies to rest.  As believers, it is essential for our souls to rest.  Jesus himself took many opportunities to get alone, away from other people and away from the weight of his mission, to commune with the Father.  Nonetheless, like all good things, resting can be distorted into a means of self-focus, spiritual-narcissism even. 

Dr. Curt Thompson referenced this during Seasons--these times of rest should actually be times of deep work, within ourselves and with God, just like a seemingly-dormant tree in winter whose roots are working harder than ever in preparation for Spring.  More importantly, just like Jesus, the times we pull away from everything should always be done with the intention of preparing our hearts to enter back into the mess and the mission--resting to return.  No sooner did the last session end than we were given the opportunity to do just that.

A gathering had been planned at the church I grew up in.  Though nearly 20 years has passed since we lived in Alexandria, it was AMAZING to be surrounded by such a palpable sense of support and love.  A small reception was set up especially for senior adult members of the congregation to greet us, many of whom had known me as a child and prayed for me as an adult, particularly in my journey over the last 5 years. 

I approached a woman who was seated with a walker in front of her.  Her face struck such a memory chord as someone who had a been a piece of my story long ago.  A friend told me that the woman, Jean Fairfax, had cared for her aging parents for many years until they died.  She had never married and had no family left but her church family, and she had recently been diagnosed with ALS just a month earlier.  Few combinations of letters make my heart sink the way those 3 letters do.

I knelt down to hug her, fumbling for a word of encouragement to her, but in that moment, she cupped my face in her hands, and in speech already slurred by that awful disease, she said, "I love you.  I've prayed for you.  You're a hero.  You're a hero."

Sometimes words fail.  Sometimes tears communicate best.  Jean and I wept together, for our own pains and for each other. 

As I stood up and wiped the tears from my cheeks, I was brought back to reality, back to a world where people who have sacrificed their lives for others don't necessarily get happy endings themselves.  My weekend away, my time resting in Him, doesn't change that reality, but it does bolster my heart and it bolsters my hope to re-enter that world and to love it the way God has so deeply loved me.

"Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. (MATTHEW 6:6, The Message)