I’m emerging from a busy season at work. Probably the busiest season I’ve ever experienced there. And there was a moment when I realized that it was all too much. I kept saying “I’m working myself to death,” which is absolutely an overstatement. Yet, I also knew that I had hit the bottom of my well.
As I finished this busy season I was able to step immediately into vacation. I had a couple of days at home before leaving for Austin, Texas. I enjoyed exploring a new city and discovering what made it tick. My time and my main purpose in Texas though was to visit a retreat center out in a little town called Leakey. It took me about 3 hours to drive there from Austin. However, my rental car had satellite radio and I quickly found the Broadway station. So yeah, I was singing my little heart out the entire way.
As I entered the property I left paved roads for dusty, rocky paths. I kept driving down further and further, eventually hitting the shallowest river I’ve ever seen. “Yes, you drive across the river” the sign exclaimed to my right. So, for a mile I slowly drove in the middle of a river. This drive felt like part of the transition into retreat. It was an official leaving the normal world for a new place. No cell reception, radio turned off. Just me, the car, and God.
I arrived to the retreat center, to a place that I still struggle to give words to. Words that adequately describe this piece of beauty. For me, being at Laity Lodge was catching the tiniest glimpse of heaven. In my journal I wrote that it was “Rivendell in reality.”
I had arrived early, so I just walked around the property. Fairly early on, I discovered a hammock. When I was 10 my dad bought a hammock and I remember lying out in the back yard many an evening. I specifically remember learning my lines for a play I was in. I can’t completely explain why, but the hammock feels so safe for me and brings up such comforting memories. Lying in one was like being a child again. I floated on the air, gently rocking back and forth, cupped by the ropey cradle that held me.
I suppose the image of being cradled in a hammock perfectly captures this vacation for me. God held me as I rested, pondered, and discerned. I do come back feeling refreshed, but also reminded that I cannot say yes to everything. I cannot do all that is in my heart all at once. Saying no is hard, but I know that I am not called to work myself to death. Yet, I am called to work. As I sit in this tension, I feel a little more secure that God cradles me in the tension. That this puzzle is not puzzling to him.
I couldn’t find words to describe Laity Lodge, so instead wrote on my experience of seeing this place:
Amen to this place.
Amen to this place of Idyllic beauty.
I disrupt it with my clumsy stomps.
More fitting would be the composed sailing of an elf.
They would walk as if gently floating on water.
Me? I stomp liltingly.
But perhaps such gloriousness is not meant to be left untouched.
What is beauty, but to be beheld.
Towards he who made…
Ripples of heaven.