This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, May 8, 2020
This week I’ve been testing the strength of my calendar’s pages. Erasing what I’d hoped and planned is now a regular practice, but this week in particular seemed far more of a workout. It makes me sad, of course. It also makes me grateful that I keep my calendar/notebook in pencil. Most of all, with a little time and perspective, it calls me to look ahead, when I don’t just remove but add the erasures to a list of things to come. To rebook is different than to cancel. Maybe it’s semantics, but it’s a coping mechanism for my heart right now.
Among the things I’ve erased from this week is our annual trek to Pelee Island. Since 2009, the Island has been our favourite family retreat. Sometimes in the summer, but with great anticipation every spring, we return to restore and reset. Like the birds on their beautiful, migratory stopover, we look to Pelee as the place to catch our breath. We meander on our bicycles, everywhere. We read, watch birds with endless fascination, and absorb the screen-free life. We linger over puzzles, mark time by the ferry going by, and just generally find space to hear ourselves think again. For the last few years, I’ve gone over ahead of the family, for a weeklong, personal, almost silent retreat. I do all of the above by myself first, with lots of journaling and spiritual reading to frame my days. It’s bliss. Don’t get me wrong. I love my beloveds with everything I am, but the solitary time away is good for us all; and makes me that much more anxious to greet them at the Friday ferry.
Like almost everything else this year, right now, all of that has changed. Travel is off the table, of course. Even if it wasn’t, the Islanders are wisely encouraging non-residents to stay on the mainland; and the birding festival that usually highlights our spring trip is now completely online (well, the banquet is, at least). We’ll tune in for that, and in the meantime, we’re birding more intently, more intentionally, from the front and back windows of home, and trying not to dwell on when we might return to the beloved Island that nurtures us.
If this had been Plan A, I would be on Study Leave right now, effective this morning, and back on May 19. At one point in these restrictions, I couldn’t conceive of that being possible for even a modified time. It’s a strange thing to plan to be ‘away’ when we’re always away from each other right now – but for the short and long term, my spirit really needs this. I’m weary, in every way. I’m not falling apart. No worrying required. I’m just wearied, with a good dose of screen fatigue, so all the more reason for me to take part of the planned retreat, and go offline from next Monday through Sunday. I’m not sure yet what that will look or feel like, but I know I have a stack of reading, and course work where I’d like to spend more time. I know I will fill the days, but at a different pace, and preferably without a keyboard.
So, I’ll see you this Sunday for Coffee & Conversation via Zoom, and then I’ll see you a week after that. I’ll see how this goes, but I trust all will be well. I trust you’ll find space for you, too. God really needs you to. Of that, I am certain. I’ll put that in permanent ink.
Love, peace, and truest rest to you all,
“Help me to find myself as I walk in others’ shoes.”
(Prayer Song from Ghana, traditional;
From ‘The Soul
of A Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the
Journey Within’, p. 40)