This week, I feel I’ve spent a lot of time looking out the window. These days, whenever I walk over to Martha’s office to ask a question or procrastinate, I find myself usually taking a look at the new prayer labyrinth. The digging of paths is done now, and mulch is being laid down to plant bushes, flowers, and trees to line the paths. This labyrinth is a very cool thing to look at as is, with just the path dug out, but I imagine that it will be even more gorgeous when the plants are all set and in bloom. It will be something to see when the trees have grown enough to give shade and bear fruit for those who pass through. It will, I’m sure, seem like going to a secluded, personal place. Very soon, I’ll go dig up some cedar tree saplings and move them to this place, and I imagine how one day they’ll be tall enough to climb. They’ll cast a shadow on me someday, even though now they hardley go past my knees.
These are the thoughts you can kind of lose yourself in during the work day if you aren’t careful. This week the program commitee paid a two day visit to camp to do our annual program planning meeting. This is the big one for the year, where we set new policies and fees, decide on new projects, looking at the year passed and the year to come. There’s a lot of important discussion and decision time spent during this marathon of a meeting. Ours, this year, last from about 11:00am to about 11:00pm the first day. We met in the lower level of the Administration Building, which is lined with windows. I made a smart decision of sitting facing away from most of the windows. Unfortunately for my ability to focus, there is really no place to sit in that room that shields you from all of the windows. So, I had to keep myself in check frequently from staring out the window at the hummingbirds that would occasionally fly by, the camp dogs making their presence known outside the door, or even the dead armadillo out in the field.
We have so many things going on these days that it’s a wonder our brain is ever really paying attention. Whether it’s an act of love, commitment, or respect, it seems that it is a big deal now to really listen to someone. That’s not because we don’t care, it’s because we just feel like we should be doing so much. It’s a bit overwelming to think of all the things we went over and made decisions on in this recent meeting. New camps, new staff positions, repair work, changing retreats, adding retreats, taking retreats away, changing policy, reaccessment, reafirmment, recreation, recommendations. All of this very important and very exciting. But even as I do this–even as I realize the honor and responsibility of helping decide the path of this wonderful place–there is still at 10 year old inside me that just wants to go out and take a walk.
I am still like the guests who are captivated by the squirrels just outside the sunroom windows, jumping from branch to branch, doing acrobatics to get some bird seed from the feeder. Many a speaker has had a mistaken ego boost from the facial expressions of people simply watching animals play outside. But, oh, what an ego boost it is. You are there speaking your mind, making your point. You make eye contact with the people sitting in front of you. You see that their eyes are lighting up. They smile. They even get excitable. It seems as if they are in suspense over what you will say next. Then you make your point, and a look of relief goes over their faces. You feel as if you are inspiring people. You are teaching. Lives are being changed. This is fantastic. Little do you know. A squirrel has just jumped 6 feet from one branch to another. He missed his first branch, but managed to catch the one below it.
Here I am now and it’s 5:25pm on Friday afternoon. I have plenty more analysis and explanation to do on this topic. I could talk about attention spans and self importance. I could talk about the balance between responsibility and fascination. But, you know, the sky is a very pretty blue. A breeze is picking up and it feels just right outside. And, I’m sure there are squirrels out there somewhere jumping from tree to tree.
Hope you find something to watch too. Be in prayer for the Bodine school, who was here earlier this week to do ropes course and the Smithmiers’ family reunion, here for the holiday weekend. May they find peace and rest.