“This is the craziest thing I’ve done!,” I exclaimed to myself as I boarded a plane on July 21st.
Headed out to Missouri, I would be joining seventeen other women from the Five Minute Friday writing community for a retreat. What made this experience unique to most of the participants, including me, was the fact that we had never met in real life.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only person to find the paradox involved in the situation. One of the women mentioned that we reiterate to our kids the dangers of meeting up with online “friends.” Yet, here we were doing just that. In addition, I flew to a city I had never visited.
Obviously, this event involved different factors than the typical online chats which made it a safe option. At least from the perspective of physical safety.
But gathering in such a manner involves a degree of risk and requires vulnerability. The latter is a characteristic of which I have been slowly learning to adorn.
However, it was not difficult to meld with these women. So many different narratives came together to create an eclectic, beautiful community. Laughter, tears, and storytelling ensued as we shared life together over three days. I gained insight into lives different from my own. In addition, the depth of God’s grace and mercy were revealed through listening to the personal glimpses shared.
When we hear the ways God’s hand weaves through the lives of others, we find hope for seeing it weave in our lives as well.
I arrived home armed with writing goodies, wisdom, an improved skill set, beloved friends, private jokes and a transformed spirit.
Though my plane touched down in the midst of an approaching storm, the environment in my soul radiated light.
God opened up my world and my heart over a few days. I am thankful for such a blessing.
(photos courtesy of Jen Lamos, Kate Montaung, and Tammy Belau)