So I spent the weekend in the mountains, drinking with a bunch of fun-loving Episcopalians. As my boss pointed out before I left, it probably wasn’t a bad place to be in the event of a rapture, just in case. I wasn’t too worried; I used to teach math, and figured that the equation “(Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared” was pretty fuzzy by anyone’s standard. It did not stop us from making a series of inappropriate jokes, and threatening to punk our new priest by leaving little piles of empty clothes next to our nametags and wine glasses strewn about the conference center.
A good time was had by all. I have never, ever seen so much wine in one place:
and that was just the drinks before dinner, by the lake. It was great. I suspect there is a solid reason we got the nickname “whisky-palians” along the way. There was also square dancing, fishing, scavenger hunting, ropes course-ing, and anything else you would want to do. What I needed more than anything else, though, was rocking chair time.
During the part of the weekend when we actually sat still and listened and learned things, our priest told a story of when he was young, and his father would get to the end of a movie, or a story, and make all the kids answer the question, “What do you think happens next?” Like, at the end of the Wizard of Oz, what happens after Dorothy returns to the black-and-white farmhouse? What’s the first thing she does? What happens after that? And then he made a really interesting point: we, as adults, play that game all the time with our own lives. We think we know what happens next, because we know what happened before. We slow down on taking risks and looking for surprises, because we think we already know that if we do X, then we will feel Y. That’s an equation that actually does make sense to me, because I use it all the time; the problem is that to get to “Y,” I make a whole slew of assumptions that may not be true. It would be really interesting, I think, to stop thinking I always know what’s going to happen, and start assuming that something different might happen this time around. To start expecting unexpected things to crop up; to start investing a little effort in some different avenues, and get a little excited about what could happen next. I’m willing to give it a shot.
I was mulling all of this over, while sitting in my rocking chair with Chad and Caroline and Julia by the lake, looking out at this:
We were all tired, straight through to the bone. I was deeply, deeply committed to becoming one with my rocking chair. I closed my eyes and dreamed about being one of those floats out on the lake. But it was time for the Wine Hike. Chad tried to rally the troops. “Chad,” I said faintly, “I really, really want to be up on the top of the mountain enjoying the view with y’all, and drinking wine. But the thought of walking up the mountain seems like more than I can handle at the moment. Maybe I’ll just stay and nap in my rocking chair.” Chad, having heard the same speech I did, stone-cold busted me (nicely.) “You don’t know yet!” he reminded me. “You don’t know how it’ll feel to be up on the trail, and how you’ll feel after you’ve hiked, and how it’ll feel when you’ve worked to get up to the view! You don’t know what’s coming next, at all!”
and ate cranberry cheese and crackers on a tablecloth, on top of a table rock while drinking wine:
and enjoyed the Blue Ridge view.
None of us got raptured, and nothing dramatic happened, and the rest of the weekend was just good fun. And now I’m back at home, and looking for some surprises.