As I mentioned in my last post, I had a great time leading a retreat the other day with Highrock Covenant Church in Arlington, Massachusetts. Before the Saturday retreat, I met for dinner with the two leaders helping me prepare for the day. Michelle and Amy treated me to a tasty meal at a new favorite place, Not Your Average Joes. Incidentally if I’m ever in Boston and you’re there too, you can take me there for a meal. Note that I may come with family.
During our conversation, Michelle asked me two questions. Her first was why do you lead these retreats, and I thought out loud about that in my last post. In this post, I’m rambling about her second question. The context of our retreat didn’t really relate to her second question since it was a broader, bigger question. She asked, what is your dream?
Some kind of way I was expected to answer first. So I tilted my head up and thought about the largeness of the matter. Michelle caught my thought as if it were a tossed ball and said she knew it could be answered in many ways. I knew exactly what I wanted to say. Only later, when she and Amy answered themselves, did I think I miscalculated.
Their answers would hone in on particular things they wanted to do, while mine focused on the broader answer right before that, what I wanted to be. I told them that I wanted to be a faithful pastor while being a good writer. My dream is to serve the congregation in front of me, people I know, and to serve the reader I would probably never meet. That has become a persistent abiding dream. It’s a part of the play that I think of when I close my eyes. Those two worlds combined serve as the stage on which my life is.
I’m thinking about words all the time. I’m listening to the stories of others, making sense of them, or trying to. In one role I’m sharing an old story, turning it over, researching its rudiments and investigating the world from which it was written. I’m trying to interpret that story for my life and community.
In the other role, I’m wondering through the creative process and attempting to write the story in my ear, the story in front of me, the one that, unlike the old story, resists revision right now. It’s the story I’m working over, thinking about, and going back to once I’m done writing this post.
I want to do well at both. I’m not the type to attempt something and quit. I’m destined to send myself nuts, but it’s the only route I know. I blame it on my birth order. At least today. But these two parts of me, these untraceable pieces of my character, compose my dream.
I appreciate Michelle’s question. I wonder how you would answer.