Saturday, February 04, 2006

Getting Perspective

After spending more than a week at the Midwinter Conference in Chicago, I'm finally home. Chicago was warmer than normal for late January early February. But toward the end of the week the gray-metal skies descended and by Friday everthing drizzled. About 1,000 pastors and leaders were gathered together in the cavernous space of the Hyatt Hotel, surveying crowds for old friends; being introduced to new friends, singing familiar songs and learning new ones. Leaders exhorted us from podiums and sometimes talked to us in the hallways. We ate meals together in the restaurants and consumed expensive coffee between meals and meetings. We stayed up late laughing, listening to each other's journeys, praying for each other and sometimes crying with each other.
But too long in a hotel, too long eating in restaurants, too long breathing filtered air, too long in unfamiliar territory makes me a bit disoriented. My bearings get scrambled and I begin to go places I shouldn't go; like complaining and criticizing denominational politics, second guessing leadership changes, speculating about the success or failures of other pastors. I had to get home. I was getting negative.
The ride home was great. I was tucked into seat 41A on a United 757. That's the seat at the very back of the plane on the window. Behind me was the galley and restroom. My seatmate was a single-mom coming back from a family crisis in Rochester NY. As the monster lifted off and headed through the thick clouds, the sky grew brigher and brighter till we emerged into the brilliant morning sun. We flew at about 35,000 feet over the midwest. I saw fields and grazing lands, mountains and roads. Three hours later we landed in LAX and I scrambled onto a short-hop commuter plane to Santa Barbara, that flew straight west along the coast. Soon I began to recognize landmarks: Ventura, beaches, oil rigs, and the hills of Santa Barbara. I saw the cemetery and traced a line up to where the church and parsonage should be. This was where I belonged. This was the pastoral landscape I was called to serve.
Then today we drove up into the hills with a friend of ours visiting us from Michigan, to show her the sights. The photo above is looking west from La Cumbra Peak (about 3,900 ft above sea level). From the heights I see exactly where I belong. It's kind of weird how tied I am to physical surroundings. I need spatial some reminders to get my scrambled bearing back into alignment. It happened everywhere I ahve served: Minneapolis, Muskegon, Lafayette. I always knew when I was home, and where I belonged.
May God give you a view from the heights to remind you of your neighborhood and where you belong to serve him.


At 6:03 AM , Anonymous Kent said...

Hey Don, what gives? You cannot let you job interfer with this blog, it has been almost a week, come on....

I would show pictures of Illinois but it would only depress you, snow, no water and flat.

Eat a fish taco for me!


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