— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —
On my birthday in February, I got one of those presents that puts one into the position of feeling forced to manufacture a more or less genuine-looking smile and sort-of-excited exclamation of ‘Thank you!’. The gift was a weekend trip to a Christian women’s camping outdoor weekend. I was quite worried about the idea of camping. The last time I had slept in a tent was many, many years ago and my main memory of that occasion is me aching all over from the uncomfortable mat I laid on and being really cold all through the night.
Also, I wasn’t too sure if the whole event itself would be ‘my vibe’, if it would be the type of environment where I would feel spiritually at home. I was a bit suspicious of it all.
A couple of weeks ago the day had come and I found myself on this adventure I was unsure I actually wanted to embark on. 80 women (most of them much more excited than I was), bearing our big rucksacks, laden with sleeping bags, tents, cookers, and all, set out on our hike to the campground in the forest. We were divided into groups of 7 to 10 ladies of different ages. My group was a lovely bunch, and it was remarkable how well we got to know each other in only 48 hours. Remarkable was also, how much my feet would hurt after many kilometers of hiking over the weekend!
So, what are my take-home points from this experience? How did it all go for me?
One of the things that stands out to me is how rewarding it is to fully engage with an experience I’m thrown into and that wouldn’t have been my activity of choice. Stepping out of my comfort zone, both physically and spiritually, was taxing, but not as hard as I had imagined it to be when I was making up all sorts of worst-case scenarios in my head during the weeks leading up to the event. I got to experience the sweet spot of being present to the people and the setting around me, while still being fully me, with all my limitations, preferences, and boundaries.
Those of you with more life experience than I probably are much better versed in this already, and have grown into this as your default mode of walking through life. I enjoyed it so much, practicing listening to the person in front of me and also offer kindly my own point of view, even if it differs somewhat from the mindset those around me appear to have, without having the goal of changing the other person’s mind. I noticed that I bring my own personal experience to the table and sharing my unique point of view can be enriching for all. Only I can be myself!
After 2 years of the pandemic, it was such a treat to get out of my daily and weekly routines and to have time, company, and space to face some of the matters on my mind at this time. Physical exhaustion seemed to unlock something within me and talking to people that didn’t know me at all, but were gently and loving nevertheless, was so very effortless and healing.
I found that it doesn’t have to be the environment of my choice in order for it to be the right place for me at a certain time. Some of the practices or offers didn’t speak to me? I’m allowed to take it or leave it! I’m invited to make the best of the experience, to find where and how the still small voice within whispers to me and to allow others to do the same.
Once back home, reflecting on the weekend, both internally as also with others, put everything I experienced into perspective and made me have a couple of lightbulb moments. I noticed things or made connections I hadn’t while I was still in the thick of it.
Last but not least, I’m happy to report that, despite all worries, I slept incredibly well in the tent, thanks to trinitarian camping blessings: The beautiful weather God provided, the warm & cosy sleeping bag belonging to my husband, and the most comfortable light-weight air mattress a friend lent me!
God of the Outdoors,
meet us in creation
and draw our attention to your presence in earth, water & sky.
God of Community,
meet us in the encounter with each other
and let us be a blessing to those around us.
God of Progress,
meet us in our challenges
and let them become the ground on which we grow and flourish.
The ACF Midweek Meditations
are written by a diverse group of our church members with the intention to seek God’s fingerprints in our lives. They range from somber to humorous and are inspired by all facets of live and faith. Written by ordinary people from all walks of life, they reflect a wide range of Christian backgrounds and spiritualities.
Each week’s text portrays the individual viewpoint of its author. They might not always resonate with everyone, and are not meant to be understood as representing the Anglican Church Freiburg as a whole. Yet, as a church that is aiming to ‘Build a Community of Grace’ we seek to practice learning from and listening to one another.
We pray that these humble ponderings add a small spark of blessing to your week.