A short clip of my cohort group -- a
ren't they great?
Bus ride to the Getty Museum,
At first, I was excited to go into the woods. A private audience with the God of the universe? He wanted my undivided attention? He wanted to give me his? It seemed too amazing to believe. I was ecstatic and humbled.
But then, after a couple days of noticing this invitation -- of carrying this new image of God and myself standing at the edge of the woods, his arm around me, inviting me forward -- I noticed something more about the image.
Just behind me, to my right and out of my line of sight, was my graduate program cohort group.
For the last three years, I have been learning, sharing, and growing alongside a truly remarkable group of twenty individuals in a spiritual formation master's program. This group of people risks vulnerability with each other, challenges each other, confesses things to each other, and celebrates and mourns together the significant moments of life.
They are my community. I cherish them.
And in about two months, we will conclude our three-year journey together and graduate. Almost the whole of our group will gather in Michigan and mark this special occasion with ceremony and time together. We will then move into the next phase of our lives without the structure of class syllabi, discussion boards, and yearly residencies to hold us together.
And there they were, standing behind me as I faced the woods with God.
They stood in a group, clustered together outside a wooden structure, laughing and razzing each other and getting ready to eat what seemed like a great, hearty meal of barbecue pulled pork.
I wasn't with them.
And I wasn't invited to be with them. Instead, God had invited me to come away with him into the woods. He had some things to teach me. Some ways for me to learn and grow . . . separate from my community for the time being.
This wasn't okay with me. I stopped in my tracks once I realized this was one outcome of the invitation into the woods. And as wonderful as that invitation into the woods with God had seemed, I wasn't ready to say goodbye to my cohort group yet. I told God it was too soon. Already I'd anticipated a difficult time saying goodbye in May at graduation . . . but that was several months away. It wasn't time to say goodbye yet.
I began to feel even more poignantly the loneliness I had just begun to notice in this place, and I wasn't sure what I would do. Would I accept God's invitation into the woods? You'll find out in the next installment . . .