Monday, August 30, 2010

So, Orientation, That was Interesting....

Leaving. Going, Gone, BYE! So, I arrived in New York's La Guardia airport a few minutes earlier than expected but on a different flight than planned. Unfortunately, after about 20 minutes, I realized that my baggage was on the original flight. I quickly met a couple-a-YAV's without committing their names to memory before dashing to the correct terminal to claim my bags from United.

Then, I waited. I waited for some facilators to find me. I waited with other YAV's for more flights to arrive. I waited for the shuttle and then I waited for the hour and a half drive to the conference center. It seems like I have been waiting all week, waiting to really leave and to do something. Heck, now I'm waiting in Chicago's Midway airport before a 4 hour flight to LA. It's kind of weird, because the whole week at Stony Point was about being...being present, being aware, being focused on our personal gifts and those of our community.

I definitely learned some things but I don't think it's necessary to go through them here. The most important, I think, is to be ready for anything, to not get too attached to my own expectations, whether they concern people or events or anything else. The tough part is being fully present in the current moment because I think that's when we feel closest to each other and to God and it's difficult not to get caught up in tomorrow or yesterday, next month or last year.

The times that I felt most present this week were during song. Many of the songs we sung were short, simple, and repetitive. I leave you with my favorite of the week, sung during the last night's worship and communion.

We were once no people,
but now we belong to each other,
and to God
(Also, I'm here (like in Hollywood), but more on that later, and later and later and later!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why I'm Doing What I'm Doing, or Part of It.

I thought, or I suppose that I think, that a good way to start this little blogging adventure would be to tell everyone a bit about why I decided to do this in the first place. What 'this' is is much more than a blogging adventure--it's a life adventure. It's a year long commitment to trusting God and community while sharing those two vital things with people in need. Now, I'm not arrogant enough to think that I can tell you why God called me to this journey or even all of the reasons that I think I'm supposed to go, but I thought I'd start with the first time  I'm pretty sure that I felt God whisper it in my ear. But first a quick background....

Most people reading this probably know the story and know it well. During the summer of 2006, I was in a car accident. It is no exaggeration to say that I should have died; in fact, a number of medical professionals have told me so. I spent months under sedation, and a total of ten and one half in the hospital. You can look at me and get a pretty good sense of my injuries. I was burned badly on large swathes of my body and my right foot was amputated. The part that I don't really talk about is the part after the hospital, the part where I was dealing with this visibility of my injury and the reaction of others to it and the questions of why something like this should happen to me.

You see, at this point, I was sort of operating on the premise that if I pretended to be happy for long enough that, eventually, I'd just be happy, sort of like magic. I was caught up in questioning why I had to be hurt, anger that I was hurt, and I lugged around this deep cynicism that any stranger who was looking at me or asking me about how I was injured was doing it selfishly and rudely, and everyone was looking. I was the victim. It's no fun being a victim.

Of course, there are places that were safe, places full of people I already knew and that treated me like I was the old Robert. In fact, if I'm honest, this is probably the only reason I even cared to go back to church at first--I certainly didn't care too much for God. I got a sour taste in my mouth every time someone told me I was miracle, that God had saved me for something special. After all, wasn't He the one who made me need the saving in the first place?

But, church was safe, family and old friends were safe. Places that weren't safe were full of rude, uncaring, self-interested people. There was no deeply Southern gas station lady, howling out, "Boy, you look like you caught on fire!" as I hobbled into the store. There were no eager, would-be hero-worshippers, stomping off and muttering "I only wanted to thank you for your service." Nobody would walk up to me and say, "Man, you look like you got thrashed!" (Incidentally, that's my favorite comment so far). My cynicism was getting the best of me. Everyone was looking at me and everyone had some ulterior motive, some secret agenda.

Then, there was this little girl. I won't say that this was an epiphany where all the knowledge of the world just slammed sideways into my brain, but it was the first moment I felt good, that I genuinely laughed about all that I had been through. I was wheeling into the movie theater at Concord Mills when this little girl, probably three or four years old, looked up at me and all she did was say, in the cutest most genuine voice, "What happened to you?" Immediately, her mom pulled her away and told her how impolite of a question that was, but I just laughed.

And it felt really good.

The reason that I've set out on this adventure is that. I want to care about people in need of an ear, a hand, a leg-up (haha) or whatever else and I want to show them what I've learned, how my family, my community have stood by me, loved me, held me up while never failing to praise the Lord, and how we're ready and willing to do the same for them. I want to make people feel like that little girl made me feel when she picked the first of the scales from my eyes. And, the Lord has spent the past year making it difficult to refuse.


Please pray this week for my fellow YAV's as we spend this week in meditation and worship to help us focus on the journeys that lie before us. Pray for the friends and families we left behind and the new friends we'll make at our sites, and pray for the little things we can all do to make someone's day better.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. -Psalm 139 v7-10.