We never ask for disappointment, do we? It shows up uninvited like grumpy Aunt Lurleen, unexpected as a canker sore, as unwelcome as salt in a wound. It does not politely remove its hat upon entering our world, nor does it apologize. Disappointment never apologizes. Forgoing customary greetings, it barges in and sets to flooding the place. So what of it, Eric? Big deal. Grow up. Be an adult. Though indeed responses, they avoid the question: What do we do with all the disappointment? Accept it? Get on with life? Love it? Hide from it? Pull it close? Push it away? Drown in it? Grieve? Take joy in it? Capitulate?
Indeed, I knew all about the Herdmans; I lived across the street from a real live set of them, and as we read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, fear started to fade and intrigue began to grow. This was the first time I rooted for the alleged bad guy.
Driving home in the rain a couple of weeks ago, the red lights from the new Mexican restaurant mixed with the green traffic lights, creating a slick of holiday color. Instead of a wet mess, it felt like a gift, a cacophony of color for my damp drive home. I wondered if I would have seen it if I hadn’t been paying attention, keeping my eyes peeled for moments of wonder.
Who am I to say how or when God communicates, or what a DJ has to do with the divine? But maybe this is the way of God, to hover over the surface of the waters, to speak something new into being. To speak something new when all is dark and cold, something that will penetrate the opaque substance of hull or hill or heart.
If retreat is about prayer, work, and solitude, then what is return? This is something I am still considering. What I do know is that we return from these quiet places changed. Some of these quiet places are literal, others spiritual. But when we go back to our jobs, our homes, our routines, how have these retreats changed us?