We left town this weekend.
I know, this is perhaps the most drab of opening sentences, but hear me out: we mustered the energy to drive eighty miles south this weekend. We packed our car full of food and camping gear and coloring books galore and went to the Santa Cruz mountains this weekend. We set aside the physical and emotional exhaustion that comes with moving, and we left town this weekend.
And it was good.
We holed up with an eclectic gathering of creatives and poets, innovators and cultural creatives, alongside folks we barely knew but hoped to know just a little bit more by the end of forty-eight hours together at an obscure Quaker retreat center in the middle of the woods. Lo and behold, by the end of the weekend, we had gotten to know a handful of folks and they had gotten to know us a little bit too.
After all, at the end of the day, I’m fairly convinced that all we humans really want is to love one another and be loved in return – which usually looks like knowing one another and being known in return.
And this happened without a whole lot of a schedule. This happened without the guidance of a conference host or a retreat facilitator. This happened without the help of a programmatic children’s ministry, let alone without the help of children’s volunteers.
Instead, this happened through a handful of Post-It notes and a whole lot of organic conversation.
“So, what’ve you got?” our friend Mark said from the front of the room, Sharpie in one hand and stack of colorful Post-Its in the other.
“Knife sharpening!” one man yelled.
“A conversation about race and equity in the church!” another woman shouted.
“Plushies!” “Bourbon and Poetry!” “Contemplative listening!” “Dance party!”
That’s exactly how the weekend went down, our “schedule” and our time together made complete by the passions of every human who gathered around the table.
And in a way, I’m pretty sure that’s how life is supposed to go down too: our lives made complete by the passions of every human who gathers around the table.
As you may know, almost two months ago my family moved from the Pacific Northwest to the San Francisco Bay Area. The weeks and months leading up to the move felt like a whirlwind, and in a way they were: sometimes it felt like we were there one day and gone the next. We didn’t get to say goodbye to everyone that held a place in our hearts, nor did we get to pay homage to every place that staked claim to the Seattle chapter of our lives.But I did get to preach at my beloved church one last time.
And I did get to remind the community of the pure and simple truth that we come to God exactly as we are, with exactly what we’ve got. I couldn’t get over the passage in John 6, when Jesus feeds five thousand people with five loaves and two fish – but as I sat with the story in the weeks before, I mostly couldn’t get over the image of the young boy in the story.
“Hey buddy,” I imagine Jesus saying to the boy, who probably isn’t much older than my sons. “How’re you doing?”
“So, what’ve you got there?”
“Hmm, well, I’ve got,” and the little boy pauses, as he counts his fishies and loaves out loud. “1… 2… 3… 4… five loaves and, just a minute, Jesus. 1… 2… yup, that’s it. Two fish!”
“Awesome, buddy. So, do you think I could have them?”
“Okay, see you later. High five or our super secret, just-you-and-me handshake?”
“Handshake!” So they do their super secret, just-you-and-me handshake, because that’s just what you do when you’re friends with the creator of the universe. Ain’t no thang.
But do you also know what happened in that moment? That little boy didn’t try to pretend to be someone he wasn’t, nor did he try and give something he couldn’t.
Instead, it’s kind of like he said, “Here I am. Here’s what I’ve got.”
That was all that needed to happen in that moment, just as it’s all that needs to happen with us in every moment with God and with the world around us. Whether you’re sharpening knives or sewing plushies or offering conversations of justice and equity, we need who you are and what you have to offer.
And who you are is downright delectable.
So, your thoughts? Who are you? What’ve you got? Also, if you’re interested in listening to the sermon I mentioned, you can check out the short homily here.