Monday, June 14, 2010

On Sunday afternoon, between rain showers, we drove up, out of the village to the high point in the area, a place known as “Point of Orientation.” It’s elevation gives a person a 360 degree view of the area surrounding our village.

The access road to it from the little paved highway is difficult to find. The road is dirt and gravel, made muddy by the recent rains. Every couple hundred yards there is a ditch in the road to prevent erosion, making the ride extremely bumpy (don’t be in the back seat if you are prone to car-sickness!). I’m sure Anna and Isaac were wondering as we drove slowly through the rough terrain, “Is this worth it?”

Then we cork-screwed around a hill and came out on this magnificent overview. The feature of Orientation is that it has two ceramic maps that point out the different directions and mileages to Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, Nimes, and Ales. It clearly gives an idea of just exactly where you are and where other places are relative to you.

I’m not there yet, but that’s the goal of these ventures away to France; to get a clear picture of my “orientation” to life and ministry. It seems impossible to do in the “valleys” of everyday life, with deadlines and interruptions keeping life always on a urgent and important track. I’m aware of the next turn in the road, the next event, the next sermon, the next……. But I get blind to the long view, the higher altitude, the point of orientation.

So far my reading has been most helpful; a history of the French Wars of Religion, the Gospel of Luke and now a history of the Monastic Movement: 1050-1170. These books have given me “views” of the church trying to be faithful in other places and in other times. They had their emergencies and urgencies. Some of their responses were healthy and productive and others we tragic and destructive. What people in these books were trying to do was implement the words of Jesus as they understood them in their time and place.

France is not the magic place. It could be Lake Tahoe or Hawaii, Catalina Island or Northern Minnesota. It just needs to be a time and place away, above, removed. I am tremendously grateful for a church like MCC that grants me this time to be still, read, pray, walk, eat (lots of cheese) and get re-oriented


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