I started out writing this post as a summary of what I learned last week at the OYAN workshop. After all this is a writing blog, right? That’s what would make the most sense for me to share.
I had my notes beside me and my fingers on the keys and the words wouldn’t come.
I thought something was wrong with me, but while I stared at my computer screen, God laid on my heart what to blog about this week.
To be honest with you, I didn’t want to share it, because it felt too personal. But God kept pressing on my heart the need to share it with you. So here we are.
Days before I was to leave for workshop I lost a loved one. Someone who ever since I was a young girl would give me a Coke and start spinning a tale and set a spark to that deep thing within me that loved telling stories.
But it was more than his loss that left me aching. Over the past two years I’ve lost other family members and I’ve felt at a loss as to why. I wasn’t angry at God, but I wanted to know why, why couldn’t my family get a break?
I was thrilled when I discovered the theme for the summer workshop was From the Ashes. I have long loved the story of the Phoenix. The idea of a creature rising from the ashes, into something beautiful and new has long held a special place in my heart.
There are countless stories and songs of being reborn from the ashes; the riddle of Strider from The Lord of the Rings, “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North. Doubtless we as a culture are enamored with the story of the Phoenix. I have even heard one pastor say that when we accept Christ as our Savior, we rise from the ashes of our past life into a Phoenix , into something new, beautiful, and pure.
In the immortal words of Aslan, things never happen the same way twice, and I didn’t go into this workshop expecting to be changed as I was last year, or the year before that. I knew a core-shaking awakening wasn’t what I needed. All I knew was that I was exhausted, mentally and physically. And that I was hurting.
Instead I got to campus way too early looking for something to cling to that was beautiful. So I sat there, afraid I was annoying everyone, wondering, waiting, watching, in that calm before the storm, in that silence when everything waits with bated breath to catch a glimpse of what’s about to happen.
And I found wonder and beauty in a sweet girl named Jenna who has become a dear friend. It was Luke, Christina, and Adrienne, who are some of the dearest people I know.
It was the small everyday moments that were sparks to my ashes, those moments that come and go so fast you almost don’t notice them.
It was the joy in giving away Apple Butter
It was sitting outside on the grass talking with friends.
It was getting notes in my journal.
It was being in a circle of friends.
It was walks to the secret playground and pretending we were ordering burritos.
It was sitting in a hallway reading excerpts, making them sound like a romance read.
It was getting soaked by sprinklers at midnight and the screaming that ensued.
It was Mr. and Mrs. S just being themselves, pouring out the love they have for us.
It was watching a friend lead a class and getting a free book out of it.
It was a gift from a mother who took care of me that week.
Since coming home from the workshop with my health seemingly in tatters, those moments are still my sparks to ashes. And with God by my side, maybe I can rise from these ashes of grief and despair into something beautiful.