Its About Community

Tomorrow we leave Madrid for Burgos and our first steps on the Camino.  We had a good day in Madrid, visiting wonderful buildings and parks.  We have little to compare to the architecture and sense of history that is found in this city.  Some buildings dating back well into the 16th century, open to the public, in wonderful condition, obviously treasured by the people of this city.

Today it was still just the two of us moving around the city, seeing its sites, almost as if we are in a bubble, observers without the ability to interact very well with those around us, feeling humbled each time we have to ask others to switch to our language becuase we cannot communicate in theirs.

We find ourselves noticing the others from our own “tribe” almost watching out for them.  Today a young man who I heard speaking English almost left his coat in the park until I approached him and pointed out his forgotten item; a young woman speaking English asked us to take her picture in front of a historic building; two young women asked us for directions to the palace when they realized that we spoke their language.  We tend to try to find people like ourselves to interact with rather than stepping too far ourside of our comfort zone.

Here we are less one pilgrim

Tonight we had our first group meeting. Michel, our guide, pointed out that, over the next 22 days, the eight of us would become a community.  We will need to take care of each other.  We will be together almost 24 hours each day. we would become like a family.  He tells us that this is part of our Camino experience, this community that happens not only with the eight of us but also with fellow travellers.

It is this part of the journey that I am looking forward to most. Our best experiences have been those where we we able to meet and interact with those around us, both fellow travellers and those living in the places to which we travelled.  Finding that sense of community in which the “other” plays a particular role in forming the community.  Its the place where we can really learn, grow, and feel a sense of fufillment.

Tomorrow, our community of eight will move to join a much larger community all on a journey to the same place, each on their own journey but also somehow joined together in the effort.

Busy Week

I have a busy week.

Yesterday was J’s birthday.  It was an auspicious one since it had a 0 in it.  We had her family for lunch and friends for a fire afterward.  It was a good day.  As I watch her sleeping on the couch across the room, I am glad that I have been able to spend more than half my life, so far, with her.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes for me.  It will be a full day starting at 8:30 am with Church History and ending with Introductory Theology at 7:00 pm.  I should be home by 11:30.

Wednesday, I start the day at the meeting of Classis Huron, being examined for a License to Exhort.  I usually don’t worry much about speaking in front of people or even being interviewed, but I am feeling a bit of angst about this one.  I have met with my examiners and have a feeling for where they will be leading me, but can I give the answers that these folks are looking for.  My gut tells me that it will be OK,  my mind is spinning trying to anticipate and frame responses.  I delivered the message in the drive in shed this morning.  It was well received.

After that, its back to the seminary for 1:30 and the Introduction to Congregational Education.

Thursday, it’s off to the Outdoor Farm show in my role as consultant.  For the past seven years, I have attended all three days of this show.  It was gruelling.  This year will be different.

The consulting business has been going well.  I am doing about as much work as I want to do and feeling satisfied in being able to bill for my time rather than feeling like the company owned my life.  I have been able to set the work aside to do the things that I want to do without feeling any pressure or guilt. As school heats up and assignments become due, pressures may mount as I try to juggle all the responsibilities.  I know which is most important, but keeping some income coming in and filling that spot with my customers is important as well.  Hopefully I can push some of the work to between semesters.

Church is keeping me busy as well.  We need to get some sort of youth group going.  I have a couple of new people working with me which is great, but means that, initially anyway, I feel like I need to take the lead to make things happen.  On top of that, I have been asked to be part of an Ad Hoc committee looking at the education program at the church.  It’s a small committee which hopefully will be done its work by February.  They made me the chair.

Between all this, I need to get admission forms filled out for Calvin College.  I have decided to apply for the Ecclesiastical Program for Ministerial Candidacy (EPMC) which would eventually allow me to be ordained in the Christian Reformed Church.  They are looking for volunteers for a 24 month pilot of this program which would not include time in Grand Rapids, so I am looking to volunteer (more forms).  I am not sure that ordination is where I am heading, but getting the door open can’t hurt.

Busy is good.  We will take it one week at a time.

99th Birthday Bash

J and I wrapped up our week of important birthday celebrations last night with a party. 

J’s birthday is 4 days before mine and even though I celebrated a 50th, hers was more important.  J’s mother passed away before she got to be 49.  Last night we celebrated life and remembered loved ones who were not with us to share the joy of the occasion.

Our friends came and celebrated with us.  We fed them a meal, shared cake and ice cream.  We spent time around the fire (it was pretty cold) and lit off a bunch of fireworks.  We felt loved and appreciated.  It was a really nice night.

It’s all cleaned up now.  We have the memories, a great selection of thoughtful cards, and quite a few more bottles of wine to help keep the experience alive for a little longer.

We begin the march to the next one.

50 Came and Went

My 50th birthday happened this week, quietly.

J sleepily wished me a happy birthday as I headed out into the dark to go to the second day of the trade show.  Pastor R called to let me know she was thinking about me.  The credit union sent a card signed by all the employees, one of which wanted to let me know that “soon I’ll be getting 20% seniors discounts”.  Otherwise, the day went by just about like any other.

This one has likely caused me the more angst than any other auspicious birthday has.  It’s not that long ago that I thought 50 was old, the end, downhill from here.  I’ve got a lot to do yet!  Much of life seems to have been about getting here.  What am I supposed to do now that I am here?

The impending 50 has a lot to do with taking the step into seminary and whatever is beyond that.  The road needs to turn here somewhere and I need to be prepared to make a turn or I fear that when the next big birthday comes I am going to be disappointed with the result.

Sounds negative doesn’t it?  I really shouldn’t down grade the blessings I have received and the accomplishments that are behind me.  The first 50 have been good. I have been blessed.  I have made a difference in a whole lot of areas.

I just know that it’s not over.