Last week I left for a continuing education event in Chicago. I know that continuing education is not a spiritual retreat, and perhaps the epicenter of one of America’s largest cities is an unusual place to find solace, but somehow, the trip was a real time of re-centering for me.
I left with a brain absolutely reeling on a million levels. Both my Senior Pastor and I would be out of town, and I would be the only one reachable by phone for the week. Baby J decided, on the day I flew out, to try out biting at daycare, resulting in a concerned phone call from his teacher. PreacherDad and I are both still adjusting to our decision to move… in November… to a place half the size of our current home. It’s all enough to make one nauseous.
But in Chicago… I had time.
I haven’t had time in ages. I had planned to work some while I was there, but shifty internet service meant there wasn’t much I could accomplish.
So I walked.
I walked along Michigan Avenue and around the Ohio Street Beach.
I shopped our beloved Trader Joe’s and rode the public transportation system. (I even rode the 147 right past my old neighborhood and sighed with nostalgia)
I stayed up late drinking decaf and catching up on life with friends, and my soul was deeply renewed.
My parent friends soothed my anxieties with their own tales from the trenches. My preacher friends rejoiced with me in the blessing of an appointment where I feel like a respected team member. Friends who hosted me on my last night reminded me that a warm, inviting home doesn’t have to be a 3-bedroom house with a yard and a fence.
I was hugged.
I told dear friends I loved them and heard it back.
I cried with a woman I consider more a sister than a friend over the difficult task of discerning God’s call… still.
When I got on the plane to come back, it was not my head but my heart that was full.
I am giving thanks for that time and for each and every person who contributed to it, and I pray that it will sustain me until May.