Sunday, November 28, 2010

Summit Semester Take Two

I don't have the words for an eloquent post. I've already tried twice. But I do have a lot of raw emotion I want to process here. So here are some random thoughts.

  • I'm back at Summit Semester, visiting for a week. It's kind of weird. Good, but oh so different. And yet, it's so similar at the exact same time.

  • One year ago today, I pulled away from Snow Wolf Lodge, tears streaming down my cheeks. Today, I'm hanging out with the awesome class of 2010, watching them process all of the emotions that come with their graduation week.

  • Time is a funny thing. In some ways, Semester feels like it was a lifetime ago, almost like a dream. In other ways, it seems like it was just yesterday.

  • I'm glad to be back at Snow Wolf Lodge, even without all the people my memories are associated with. I've spent a good deal of time just staring at the stars. I haven't really seen those in a year. There is peace, stillness, quietness that I haven't heard in a long time.

  • As much as I love the geographic location of Snow Wolf Lodge, it's really the people that make Summit Semester. I miss the community of 2009. This morning I again hugged friends goodbye as they left to return to school after a whirlwind roadtrip. I'm grateful for the opportunity to linger a few days longer, but I wasn't prepared for how very different it feels with new nametags on the doors and different faces in the halls.

  • That being said, I'm glad to get to know this class of 2010 at least a little bit. There are really great kids here. In some ways, nothing has changed. Some thirty young people have again gathered, absorbing all the knowledge their minds can hold, joyfully enjoying friendships, and asking the hardest questions of life. I've already had several great conversations, and I'm looking forward to more in the days to come.

  • As I walked the road and looked at the stars the first evening we arrived, I was struck by something very significant. I'm not the same person that walked down this road a year ago. I distinctly remember one particular walk down that road with Naomi as I wrestled to understand what it means to trust God. A year later, the answers to "what's next" aren't any closer. But my heart is at peace. I can say with confidence that my God is good, and I can and will trust Him when I don't know where we're going.

  • I can't express the impact Summit Semester made on my life. I learned so much and experienced a lot of growth. So I was almost surprised when God showed me something as I walked along the road. I've grown more in Carrollton this past year than I did at Semester. I guess in some ways that shouldn't be a surprise, but I wasn't expecting to discover that. This past year has been hard, in many ways. But having come to a milestone of this season of my life, I can look back and see growth that definitely wasn't here when I left SWL. (I've wrestled to trust God and know God this year, and I have grown in those areas. I might add that I haven't grown nearly enough, but that's part of life. When God is infinite and I am not, there is always more to learn.)

  • Finally, I random came across a quote in the church bulletin from this morning that resonated with all of this. Jeff Daley, the pastor at Grace Church in Pagosa for many years, recently moved to a different town, and the church here is in a time of transition as they look for a pastor. In the bulletin they printed: "Please remember Pastor Jeff's wise departing words for us: 'What happens to us while we are waiting is more important than what we are waiting for.'"

  • I have no idea "what I'm waiting for." But that's not the point. The point is that God has a plan, and His plan is good, because He is good. And He is working out His plan in me, even when it's hard or it seems like I'm stuck or I'm just frustrated and confused. He isn't wasting the "waiting times" of my life. Rather, it is through these very times that He is forming and transforming me into who He is calling me to be.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dying Well

So after a brief hiatus, I'm kind of picking up where I left off. It's All Saints Day. In addition to having "For All the Saints" running through my head, I've been thinking about the cloud of witnesses that surrounds us. Really, more like one person in particular.

My grandmother taught me how to die. Now, she taught me many other things through her words and example. But she truly showed me what it means to die well.

Nanny, as all the grandkids called her, was in excellent health until the last few years of her life. These were very painful as she suffered severe osteoporosis and a host of other issues. Yet, as attested by her family and friends, she never complained. She always fought to regain her strength and be there for us, even as she experienced strenuous medical issues. After recovering from multiple falls, gall stones, and pancreatitis, she earned the nickname Energizer Bunny.

In her final months, she told us several times that she longed to go Home. She was ready to be with Jesus. But even still, she fought to live to the fullest in every moment she was given.

A few days before she died, my uncles were in her hospital room discussing sports. Nanny was fading, often in and out of consciousness and lucidness at that point. Yet she was well aware of one thing. "The Rangers lost. Lauren won't be happy." For a couple years, the majority of my summer nights were spent with Mom and Nanny, hanging out at her apartment, watching the Rangers, talking about anything and everything, and helping Nanny with her evening routine.

Tonight, the Rangers lost game five of the World Series, and I can't say I'm happy. But there are so many bigger things in life, matters of life and death, matters of eternity. Nanny lived out what it meant to trust God, even when life was living hell. She had a confident faith and a gracious strength. She never quit fighting, even to her very last days. On her 88th birthday, her whole family gathered in her hospital room. She told each one of us that she loved us and was proud of us. Two days later, God took her Home, and I'm sure she heard the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

May I strive for that, as she did, every day of my life, and may I live and die well, to the glory of God.

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!