Monday, November 2, 2015

on remembering how to gather

I grew up in a house that said "the gathering place" above the front door. My dad had it put there, etched into a glass window, because he wanted our home to have an open door policy. And it did. Post-race cross country parties, soccer sleep overs, weekly high school bible study were all hosted in the walls of their home. Many times in a week groups of hormonal teens poured into their home and there was never a question of being welcomed and cherished.

My parents loved knowing their teens had a safe place to gather. I never told them this, but I loved having a safe place to gather too.

I know we talk about this month as a time for thanks. I know we're preparing our hearts for advent with this time of transition from spooky fun to reverent living and so, we give lots of thanks. We sit and we write and we think and we reflect. We say thank you and gracias and even sometimes you're welcome. I'm thankful for the thanks. But this time of year marks the season of gathering.

Now, in adulthood and busy-ness, gathering is a delicate thing for me.

Maybe it's because I'm slightly introverted and have a deep care for my alone time. Maybe it's because it involves so many people and social dynamics and I'm sensitive to those things. Maybe it's because it often involves pick up games of football and volleyball and I'd rather play soccer. Maybe it's because that time is precious and wild and unpredictably joyful.

I can deliver you a list of a thousand maybes, but there's only one sure thing: I struggle with gathering because I'm busy.

Yes, I'm busy in my mind, making lists of To Dos, writing out blog posts, texting friends. I'm busy in another place though my body is gathered here and now. I appear to be sitting on the couch next to Jason watching a movie, but my mind is somewhere else, doing something else, working through all the else-ness of life, work, blog, books.

I don't want to be busy in my mind. I want to gather wholly. I want to gather with more than my body. So, this month isn't about giving all the thanks for me: it's about remembering how to gather.

That means less phone in the evenings, less reading on the long drives from here to there, less scrolling through feeds when there's people in front of me. That means that I'm practicing thanks for what a Great God has given me by being present in all the ways that presence can happen. That means no sitting around a table comparing Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds, but instead talking about days and news and jobs.

I can already feel my social muscles working and growing sore.

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