Sunday, September 25, 2011

Giving Birth to Our Dreams: Contractions

I will never forget lying in the hospital bed, preparing to give birth to our first child. I was hooked up to an IV of Petocin, a drug used to induce labor, listening to a woman in the next room in active labor. The sound coming from her terrified me! I listened in horror, thinking to myself, "Is that going to be me in a few hours?"

I never saw the woman, but I pictured her. Her loud, guttural screams made me suspect her to be a large, robust woman with a set of huge lungs. Every time she had a contraction, it sounded like she gripped the side of her bed and fought them with all her might, as if by doing so she could get them to stop. I listened, vowing to myself that I wasn't going to do the same. 

In that moment, I realized that I could either work with the contractions or against them. I could allow them to do their work or fight the work they were trying to do by resisting them. I won't tell you that I followed my advice with agility and flawless execution. I did, however, succeed in not screaming:)

As I give birth to my dream of starting a contemplative retreat center (SFI), I don't know if I am feeling the onset of labor. I might be. We listed our house last week and have our eye on a property. Things could be ratcheting up. Labor could be imminent. In preparation, I am reminded that I can either work with or against the contractions.

Here's what I mean:
  • I can allow God's timing to naturally progress or resist it, hoping to speed things up or slow things down.
  • I can grip life and try to control it, or trust God to be in control of things like the sale of our house and the purchase of an ideal setting for Sustainable Faith Indy.
  • I can scream at life--or at God--when I feel the pain of leaving a home we love and have lived in for 14 years to embrace the new and unknown.
  • I can resent the labor it takes to overcome the inertia of 14 years of rootedness and forget why I am giving birth and what I have to look forward to.  
So, as you, my reader, think about something you are in the process of giving birth to, how would you describe your relationship with the contractions? Are you working with them or against them? Are you embracing the pain and allowing it to do its work in you? The one thing I remember that helped me during active labor was keeping my eye on a focal point. What are you focusing on?

I will keep you posted at the onset of labor, when the true contractions begin!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Giving Birth to Our Dreams: Meandering

I like to meander. I even like the word meander. It conjures the image of strolling along an unfamiliar path, finding your way as you go. You come to a fork in the road and feel the direction you should take, a route that brings you to new crossroads, ones you wouldn't have found if you hadn't chosen the first way.

I believe that birthing a dream requires a willingness to meander. First, you go one way and travel for a while and then you see a new path that feels copacetic; it feels right and good. That's what happened to me recently, as I was rambling along the path of giving birth to my dream of launching an urban  retreat center. I came to a new crossroads.

I came upon it when David and I were on vacation. The first days of our time away were in an extraordinarily beautiful retreat setting in Virginia called the Belfry. I was there for a writing retreat with other InterVarsity authors. This gracious home was snuggled into a cascade of hills amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each morning we woke early, grabbed a cup of coffee and blanket and headed to a large hill in front of the Belfry to greet the rising sun. It reminded us of what we already knew--that being surrounded by God's creation helps repair and re-center.

This led to a number of important and revelatory conversations about the idea that perhaps we should consider a setting in nature, rather than in the city, for our retreat home. It's like we have approached a new intersection, must stop and look both ways, as we consider this different path.

This morning, David read a verse to me that was meaningful to both of us. We sat and mused about it together. "Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

As we amble along this path with twists and turns and intersections, we have come to a crossroads where we must pause and ask where to go. Ask for the ancient paths. Look for the good way as we yearn for a place of rest--a retreat--for ourselves and for you, our friends and fellow travelers. Would you pray with us and for us. Thank you.