I’ve been at the Glen Workshop all week. In times past, I’ve found “the Glen” a centering, refreshing, and fecund (as writing goes) place. When I’m at the Glen I blog mostly daily, joyfully smoothing over my days like interesting pebbles I want to show off. Look, this one has mica in it!
This year? As I write this, it’s Friday, and this looks as if it will be my lone Glen-post.
There were the six weeks of daily Koine Greek class. There were the days between: the Friday, the Saturday, the Sunday, the Monday. And even to some extent, the Tuesday. Then there was the Presbyterian Women’s conference (“Synod Gathering”), drawing on a four-state community of sisterhood to Tulsa: Wednesday through Saturday night for the sisterhood, but only until Friday lunch for me because
Glen Workshop is Sunday to Sunday. I have more travel next week, laundry the week after, a week’s silence the following week, and home for a week before school resumes. I believe this is more than a little ridiculous. I’m unwilling to do this differently.
At The Gathering, our keynote+pastor took the section from John 10 about the gate:
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.—John 10:7-10, NRSV
and discussed Brené Brown’s work on the thief “Not Enough.” You’ve heard the thief’s whisper, right? “I am not ——— enough to… .” The group hummed particular recognition when she mentioned “I am not finished with my to-dos enough to relax at The Gathering.” And as one also does at women’s conferences, she referred back to renewal, and rest.
It even then occurred to me that renewal and rest might not be the same activity.
Or that they could be, but that right now, for me, they’re not.
It’s now Sunday (no longer Friday), and I’ve had my week of renewal—deep, soul-drenching renewal—with verry little rest involved. Rest perhaps in choosing to companionably sit on my bed near my roommate rather than head out for a few hours to the lean-to-ish structure where my other friends were hanging out. Rest perhaps in being the only person in my preaching class who’s never yet preached… since the workshop was about reading and considering new approaches, there were no sermons to write, and with no dogs in the hunt I could leave my ears wide.
We wrote things there; none of those things I think I will ever revise, or bring to light. That, too, might be rest.
I hung out at the lean-to last night. I was just as sleepy but my yearning for my friends pulled harder. I snarked, talked about parenting intense teens, laughed, traded gripping theological constructs and citations (that there is not snark), heard a compelling new song that was both about specifically us and also anyone, prayed hard. A usual one of our unusual evenings together, in fact.
Me, I prayed about “fallow,” my 2019 word, which I referred to as “the word You haven’t let me write about.” And wrinkled my nose at myself: ohhh. Wouldn’t that, after all, be one way to live my “fallow” year?
Pádraig Ó Tuama, my instructor, frequently notes, “The form is wiser than we are. We should listen to it.”
I am, as expected, renewed. I remember who I am: a poet, a scholar, a mischievous wit who nevertheless grounds and calms others (not always on purpose). The Glen is my ‘refresh’: drop what was, go back to Source, pull that original instruction set back into daily operation.
Rest will just have to happen another time.
The form is wiser than I am.